Sweden has reversed its controversial epidemic control strategy based on more in recommendations than in restrictions and has chosen to prohibit the meetings of more than eight people given the seriousness that the situation has taken in recent days. It has also limited the sale of alcohol from 10pm and will not exempt bars and restaurants from these limitations.
These measures, which would even sound lukewarm in most European countries, are a 180 degree turn in Sweden’s pandemic politics. Their interior minister, Mikael Damberg, has come to characterize them as “highly intrusive measures that are unprecedented in modern times.”
So far, the most drastic restriction applied by the Swedish Government had been limit social gatherings to a maximum of 50 people and to close the bar service in bars and restaurants. During March and April, when most European countries and their surroundings applied severe house quarantines, Sweden limited itself to closing universities and secondary schools and banning visits to nursing homes, in the hope of protecting the most vulnerable population .
Can it be said then that the Swedish strategy has failed? Depending on who you compare with. It is true that countries that have applied much more severe measures such as Belgium, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom or France have suffered more deaths in relation to their population than Sweden, but the data from the Baltic country are not to shoot rockets either.
Sweden is ranked 23rd in the list of countries with the most deaths from Covid per 100,000 inhabitants prepared by Johns Hopkins University, with 6,406 deaths in total and 62.91 per 100,000 inhabitants according to data consulted on November 24.
However, neighboring countries such as Germany (position 66, with 14,460 deaths and 17.44 rate), Denmark (position 75, with 789 deaths and 13.61 rate), Finland (position 93 with 384 deaths and 6.96 of rate) or Norway (position 100, 311 deaths and 5.85 rate) have death rates in relation to its inhabitants up to 10 times lower.
Further, everything indicates that the situation is going to get worse. On Friday, the country registered a record of infections with 7,631 cases reported in a single day. Since the end of October, the positives have grown rapidly and the rise is already beginning to be appreciated in hospitalizations and critical patients.
“Sweden is being severely tested. The situation is going to get worse. Do your duty, accept your responsibility to stop the spread of the infection,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said on Monday last week, shortly before announcing the new restrictions.