While many European countries are seeing new cases surge to levels not seen since the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sweden – whose light-touch approach has made it a world outlier – has one among the continent’s lowest infection rates.
According to the ecu Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the Scandinavian country’s 14-day cumulative total of latest cases was 22.2 per 100,000 inhabitants on Tuesday, against 279 in Spain, 158.5 in France, 118 within the Czech Republic , 77 in Belgium and 59 within the UK, all of which imposed lockdowns this spring.
Twenty-two of the 31 European countries surveyed by the ECDC had higher infection rates. New cases, now reported in Sweden only from Tuesday to Friday, are running at roughly the speed seen in late-March, while data from the national health agency showed just one .2% of its 120,000 tests last week came back positive.
Sweden also has fewer new daily infections than Norway and Denmark, its Nordic neighbours. Thirteen Covid-19 patients are in medical care in Swedish hospitals, and its seven-day average of coronavirus-related deaths is zero.
“We don’t have the resurgence of the disease that a lot of countries have,” Anders Tegnell, the country’s chief epidemiologist and architect of its no-lockdown strategy, told broadcaster France-24 in an interview, adding that the country was broadly proud of its overall strategy.
“In the top , we’ll see what proportion difference it’ll make to possess a technique that’s more sustainable, that you simply can confine place for an extended time, rather than the strategy meaning that you simply lock down, open up and lock down over and once again .”
Unlike many countries, Sweden closed schools for the over-16s but kept those for younger pupils open, insisting on full attendance. Schools and universities are now open again.
It also banned gatherings of quite 50 people and told people over 70 and in at-risk groups to self-isolate.
Otherwise, the population of 10 million was asked, instead of ordered, to respect physical distancing and work from home if possible, which it largely did. Shops, bars, restaurants and gymnasiums stayed open and therefore the wearing of masks has not thus far been recommended.
Tegnell has insisted the aim wasn’t to realize rapid herd immunity but to slow the spread of coronavirus enough for health services to be ready to cope. He has also, however, consistently said Sweden’s strategy may prove more sustainable long-term.
The approach came under attack reception and abroad earlier this year because the number of deaths soared. At 574, Sweden’s coronavirus toll per million inhabitants is quite five times above Denmark’s and 10 times that of Norway and Finland, but less than some countries that imposed lockdowns, like the united kingdom , Spain and Italy.
Tegnell told France-24 the country’s high deathrate wasn’t associated with its overall strategy but rather to a failure to stop the catastrophic spread of the virus within the country’s care homes, where the bulk of Sweden’s 5,846 deaths occurred. “Of course something went wrong there,” he said.
The government said on Tuesday it had been lifting its ban on visits to worry homes for the primary time in months from October. The minister for social affairs, Lena Hallengren, said: “It may be a risk once we lift the ban. I now want everyone to require responsibility.”
Johan Carlson, the director general of Sweden’s public health agency, also said last week the strategy had been a hit because it meant messages to the general public had been clear and consistent, placing the stress on personal responsibility.
“The purpose of our approach is for people themselves to know the necessity to follow the recommendations and guidelines that exist,” he said. “There are not any other tricks before medical measures, primarily vaccines, become available. The Swedish population has taken this to heart.”
Jonas Ludvigsson, a professor of epidemiology at the respected Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, said: “Sweden’s strategy has been consistent and sustainable. We probably now have a lower risk of spread here compared with other countries.”
France on Saturday recorded 10,561 new cases during a single day, the very best since the pandemic began. Spain has also registered an alarming increase, earlier this month becoming the primary country in western Europe to report 500,000 infections.
The Czech Republic on Sunday reported its biggest single-day increase in new infections for a 3rd consecutive day, while the united kingdom has also recorded a surge within the number of daily cases.