Complains Rise in Sweden as COVID-19 Cases Spike

World | November 20, 2020, Friday // 16:26|  views

А second wave of COVID-19 is hitting lockdown holdout Sweden hard, which inevitably brought in the debate in the country  a new question: Whose fault is it?

This week, blame flew in at least three directions. Some experts blamed the government, saying its light-touch strategy was too soft and had allowed the pandemic to take hold again. 

The government pushed back, saying current rules were appropriate — and were being tightened where necessary. It blamed citizens for not following the rules already in place. Meanwhile, on the streets of Stockholm, citizens blamed their leaders, saying the current rules sent mixed messages, making them hard to follow.

Since the pandemic hit Europe in March, Sweden has been in sharp focus globally, as restriction-weary populations and leaders elsewhere have wondered if Stockholm’s rejection of lockdown — schools, businesses and borders were left open — offered a viable option. 

Results have been mixed. After a calm start,death rates in Sweden rose to one of the worst in Europe, before coming down in the summer.

Sweden’s Health Minister Lena Hallengren said recently she was surprised by the attention her country’s pandemic management plans have received around the world. Being unique in any particular way was never the intention, Hallengren said. Instead, policymakers had been guided by the country’s scientists. 

She also dismissed the myth of “herd immunity” theory in particular. “We never had this in our strategy,” the minister said.

In July, Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said  that Sweden’s approach had been as effective as a lockdown, and that allowing a slow spread of disease likely meant immunity in Sweden would be higher than elsewhere. 

Sweden should therefore ride out a second wave better than nearby Finland and Norway, which dodged the first wave, he argued.

With such immunity now elusive, and Finland in particular seeing only a very limited rise in cases now, that argument has faded. 

The 14-day cumulative number of cases of COVID-19 in Sweden roughly doubled to 557 per 100,000 people on November 17 from 272 on November 3. 

Hospitalizations are rising sharply, and this week intensive care nurses at two of the Stockholm region’s hospitals were moved back to the same 12-hour shifts they worked during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.

In a recent opinion sheet 26 researchers and doctors listed rules that should be tightened. They said that people who live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should be forced to quarantine for longer than the current seven days and that this should include children./Politico

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Tags: Sweden


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