The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris compare how Sweden and Denmark are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
It now appears that after rejecting a lockdown strategy, Sweden may be changing course towards a more strict policy as Covid-19 cases are seeing a steep rise, especially in comparison to neighbor Denmark, which will be slowly easing lockdown restrictions next week.
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Topline: After taking a laid back approach to the pandemic that has involved no lockdowns like the rest of Europe, Sweden’s daily coronavirus death rate has spiked over two days and has put more pressure on officials to enact tougher restrictions on movement to hinder the virus’ spread.
- Unlike other European countries with widespread shelter-in-place orders, Sweden has not enforced a nationwide lockdown and instead aims to isolate and treat confirmed coronavirus cases—with many businesses, gyms, restaurants, bars and schools remaining open.
- Experts say the Swedish government approach may be a contributing factor in why Sweden has experienced high death rates compared to other countries, with nearly 8% of Swedes infected with coronavirus dying from it, compared to less than 2% and 4% for neighbors Norway and Denmark, respectively.
- On Thursday, there were nearly 10,000 cases nationwide, with 719 Swedes in intensive care. More than 100 Swedes have died per day for two days in a row, according to the Swedish Public Health Agency, bringing the total death count to 782.
- Statistics show Swedes appear to be practicing social distancing on their own, resulting in drops in public transport ridership and half of Stockholm residents reportedly working from home—but it may not have been enough to slow the virus’ spread.
- Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has continuously advocated for laid back measures, saying on Swedish TV Sunday that the pandemic could be defeated by herd immunity, or the indirect protection from a large portion of a population being immune to an infection, or a combination of “immunity and vaccination.”
- However, critics have argued that with a coronavirus vaccine could be more than a year away, and insufficient evidence that coronavirus patients that recover are immune from becoming infected again, the strategy of relying on herd immunity and vaccinations ineffective.
Key background: Recent numbers show Swedes appear to be following social distancing guidelines even when they’re not required by law. Passenger numbers on public transportation in Stockholm have fallen by half, and polls indicate that half of residents there are working from home. However, some critics say people need more stringent guidelines to follow as both deaths and new cases spike. Last month, more than 2,000 academics signed an open letter to demand tougher measures from the government. According to YouGov data, Sweden is the country least afraid of the coronavirus pandemic, with only 31% of Swedes saying they are “very” or “somewhat” scared that they will contract the virus, which could reflect the population’s higher-than-average trust in their own government.
What to watch for: The implementation of more strict coronavirus guidelines. According to Swedish media reports, the government is looking to the Swedish parliament to give it the power to impose emergency measures like shutting businesses and public transport, which for the most part remain open, CBC reported.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.