Daily US Times: While much of Europe is still on strict coronavirus lockdown, with severe restrictions on movement and penalties for those who break the rules, Sweden in not following the ‘rules’.
Government in Sweden did not imposed no such restrictions to its citizens. Bars and restaurants are open in the Nordic country, schools, and playgrounds too, and the government is relying on voluntary action to stem the spread of Covid-19.
It’s a controversial approach that let many to become surprised. Sweden’s approach to the virus has drawn US President Donald Trump’s attention.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump said: “Sweden did that, the herd, they call it the herd. Sweden’s suffering very, very badly.”
But the Swedish government is very confident about their policy can work. The country’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde told Swedish TV on Wednesday that Trump was “factually wrong” to suggest that Sweden was following the “herd immunity” theory — of letting enough people catch the virus while protecting the vulnerable, meaning a country’s population builds up immunity against the disease.
She said, Sweden’s strategy was: “No lockdown and we rely very much on people taking responsibility themselves.”
Anders Tegnell, the country’s state epidemiologist, also pushed back against Trump’s criticism that Sweden was doing badly.
“I think Sweden is doing okay,” he told US television network CNN. “It’s producing quality results the same way it’s always done. So far Swedish health care is handling this pandemic in a fantastic way,” he added.
According to Johns Hopkins University figures as of April 9, Sweden ha reported 793 deaths and 9,141 cases.
Sweden’s actions are about encouraging and recommending, not compulsion. Two days after Spain imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 14, Swedish authorities were encouraging people to wash hands and stay at home if sick in an attempt to combat the virus.
On March 24, the government imposed new rules to avoid crowding at restaurants. But they very much stayed open, so did many primary and secondary schools.
Gatherings of up to 50 people are still permitted in the country.
Defending the decision of schools remain open, Tegnell said: “We know that closing down schools has a lot of effects on health care because a lot of people can’t go to their work anymore. A lot of children are suffering when they can’t go to school.”
A journalist from Stockholm said the city is less crowded now.
“The subway went from being completely packed to having only a few passengers per car. I get the sense that a vast majority are taking the recommendations of social distancing seriously,” Elisabeth Liden said.