Sweden’s method led to far greater number of fatalities than their Nordic neighbours

Reading Time: 4 minutes

While countries across the world were going into strict lockdowns, closing businesses and enforcing social distancing, Sweden took a different approach.

Unlike some of its Scandinavian neighbours – like Denmark and Norway – Sweden kept primary and secondary schools open, as well as most businesses, including cafes and restaurants. So far, Sweden has banned gatherings larger than 50 people, closed high-schools and universities, and urged those over 70, or otherwise at greater risk from the virus, to self-isolate.

The Independent (UK) reports that alarming data has shown Sweden’s approach to containing corona virus has led to a far greater number of fatalities than their Nordic neighbours.

The total number of deaths (1,511) exceeds the sum of their neighbours combined: Denmark (321), Norway (152) and Finland (75).

While Sweden’s total fatalities per-million (118) is also concerning when compared to their neighbours: Denmark has suffered 55 deaths per million, while Finland’s rate is just 13 – with both nations implementing strict early lockdowns in an effort to limit the spread of the pathogen.

As a result of the spiralling numbers, the country’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven, has received criticism for his government’s light-touch strategy to contain Covid-19.

There have been 13,216 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Sweden, a country of just over 10 million, with 1,400 deaths as of Friday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The country’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said the intention was to ensure “a slow spread of infection and that the health services are not overwhelmed”.

The country has recorded a drastic increase in the number of coronavirus-related deaths during the last month, which sparked concerns about its social distancing measures.

“The difference between the approach in Sweden and in other countries is not very big. It’s mainly the tone that we deal with,” said Johan Carlson, director of Sweden’s public health agency.

Euronews reports him saying that “Rather than saying ‘you need to stay at home, you’re not allowed to do that and that’ we are trying to explain to the population why this should be done, the reason for it and also the rationale for doing certain things,” he added.

Sweden’s foreign minister, Ann Linde, who spoke alongside Carlson at Friday’s briefing in Stockholm, said the idea that life goes on as normal in Sweden is “a myth”.

“Many people stay at home and have stopped travelling. Many businesses are collapsing. Unemployment is expected to rise dramatically,” Linde said.

She argued that “Sweden shares the same goals regarding the COVID-19 outbreak as all other countries: to save lives and protect public health. We work with the same challenges as other countries – the scale and speed of the virus, the pressure on the national health system – and we use the same tools as most countries do.”

This week the government received special – though temporary – powers by parliament in order to pass bills without requiring MPs approval in case of urgent public health matters.

Parliament is however entitled to revoke any law passed with such system if it wishes to do so. In addition, Sweden’s prime minister Stefan Löfven announced the travel ban into the country would be extended until May 15. It does not apply to citizens from Switzerland or countries of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Meanwhile, The Local reports that earlier this week, the country’s Public Health Agency reported that Somali-born residents in Sweden were over-represented among those in need of hospital care for COVID-19, as were people born in Eritrea, Finland, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia.

“For us the main signal is really that we need to reach those groups better with different kinds of messages to help protect them,” state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told AFP, conceding that authorities don’t know the reason for their over-representation.

Stockholm accounts for over 40 percent of Sweden’s more than 13,000 COVID-19 cases.

Figures released last week by the capital showed that some poorer neighbourhoods had up to three times as many cases per capita.

Those municipalities are home to several of Sweden’s “vulnerable areas,” a designation originally assigned by Swedish police to socio-economically disadvantaged areas with high levels of crime.

More than 550,000 people live in these 61 areas, according to a 2019 report commissioned by the local rights group the Global Village.

The Local / Independent (UK) / News.com.Au / Euronews 

Once you're here...

%d bloggers like this: