Sweden again facing difficulties with Covid-19

Sweden again facing difficulties with Covid-19

Sweden has adopted an atypical strategy for dealing with the coronavirus: the government has imposed less restrictions on the population. The mortality rate is up to 10 times higher than that of other countries in the region.

Sweden is again facing difficulties with the number of Covid-19 infections, despite having adopted stricter measures to contain the pandemic in recent weeks.
“The Public Health Authority had prepared three scenarios in the summer. We based on the worst of them. However, it is twice as serious as feared,” Lars Falk, director of the ICU department at Stockholm’s Karolinska hospital, told AFP.

Sweden has adopted an atypical strategy for dealing with the coronavirus: the government has imposed less restrictions on the population. The mortality rate is up to 10 times higher than that of other countries in the region.

Medical services are under pressure, and the demand for reinforcements from qualified health professionals in Stockholm is high.

“Unfortunately, the level of contagion is not decreasing. This is very worrying,” said Stockholm Region Health Director Björn Eriksson. There is “extreme pressure on the health care system,” according to him.

He ordered the cancellation of all elective surgeries in the country’s capital region and asked for reinforcement from qualified professionals, particularly in private clinics.

“There is no point in drinking after work, meeting people outside the house, shopping for Christmas or having coffee: the consequences are dire,” said Eriksson last week.

Even earlier this week, hospitalizations for Covid-19 in Sweden equaled the peak in April, with almost 2,400 patients. However, the proportion of people in ICUs is half of the spring period.
For the death toll reached 7,802 on Wednesday – more than 1,800 since November. The new cases are approaching the record level, with more than 6,000 per day on average, according to official data.

New measures

Sweden was distinguished by a strategy based essentially on “recommendations” and few coercive measures. Masks are not mandatory, and bars, shops and restaurants have not been closed.

In view of the significant increase in cases, however, the authorities announced stricter recommendations, such as meeting only with people from the same residence, but there are no penalties for those who do not comply with them. The Scandinavian country has never pursued collective immunity.
Health officials, however, have long considered that the high level of contamination in the spring would undoubtedly make it easier to contain a long-term resurgence of the epidemic.

“I believe that we will have a relatively low contamination in the fall,” said the country’s leading epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell in August.

The facts proved Tegnell right only for a while. Sweden was hit by a new spike in infections a little later than in other regions of Europe. The mortality rate surpassed 10% in November, according to the Bureau of Statistics, and is expected to continue to worsen.

Prime Minister does not see a failure

Despite criticism from an independent commission, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has so far refused to call the strategy a failure.

“Most experts did not see the wave before them, they spoke of localized outbreaks,” he said in an interview with the newspaper “Aftonblad”.

“We tightened the screws, but I think we should do even more, especially during the holiday season,” said Falk.

The government even introduced a bill that will allow stores and restaurants to close. But the entry into force is scheduled for March. Sweden also expects control over vaccination, which is expected to start in December, with the aim of immunizing the entire population by mid-2021.

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