by WorldTribune Staff, September 20, 2020
As the number of coronavirus infections surges across Europe, Sweden has some of the lowest numbers of new cases and only 14 virus patients in intensive care.
Unlike most of Europe, Sweden never locked down its population early in the pandemic. It never closed schools, restaurants, gyms or even its borders.
Most of the changes implemented in Sweden due to the virus involved voluntary actions by citizens, rather than rules imposed by the government.
Most European countries have mandated wearing face masks in public space. Sweden does not recommend the broad use of masks, and its citizens largely follow that recommendation.
“This trust given to the population to shoulder personal responsibility in the pandemic puts Sweden at odds with most other countries that used coercive measures such as fines to force compliance,” The Associated Press noted in a Sept. 19 report.
As of Sept. 19, according to the European Center for Disease Control, Sweden reported 30.3 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days. That is compared with 292.2 in Spain, 172.1 in France, 61.8 in the UK, and 69.2 in Denmark, all of which imposed strict lockdowns early in the pandemic.
“We must recognize that Sweden, at the moment, has avoided the increase that has been seen in some of the other countries in western Europe,” the World Health Organization Europe’s senior emergency officer, Catherine Smallwood, said Thursday. “I think there are lessons for that. We will be very keen on working and hearing more from the Swedish approach.”
Localized outbreaks are expected in Sweden, but rather than fight them with nationwide rules, officials plan to use targeted actions based on testing, contact-tracing and isolating patients rapidly.
“It’s very important that we have quick and local response to hit down the virus without making restrictions for the whole country,” Health Minister Lena Hallengren said last week.