Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven warned in an interview published over the weekend that the country could face “thousands” of coronavirus deaths, after the country’s minimal lockdown efforts have left grade schools, bars, restaurants, and parks open amid the pandemic.
On Sunday, Sweden reported a total of 401 deaths so far from Covid-19, up 8 percent from Saturday and greater than the totals recorded in its three Nordic neighbors combined — all of which have stricter lockdowns in place. Sweden’s death toll per million inhabitants is 37, compared with 28 in Denmark, 12 in Norway, and 4.5 in Finland.
New legislation is expected this week to introduce new emergency steps, such as shutting airports or train and bus stations, closing shops and restaurants, further limiting public gatherings from the current protocol of no gatherings over 50 people, or appropriating medical equipment, according to state broadcaster SVT.
Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, has argued that Sweden is angling for “a slow spread of infection and that the health services are not overwhelmed,” in order to gradually allow the population to acquire immunity.
Amid growing cases among the elderly — despite bans on visits to retirement homes — Tegnell denied that, as the head of the campaign against the virus, he bore any personal responsibility.
“No, many people work on these issues. We all have a collective responsibility in society to protect the elderly,” he told newspaper Aftonbladet, adding that the situation was “very serious.”
Lofven has so far sought to play down the role of government in shaping Sweden’s response.
“We will never be able to legislate everything, we will never be able to ban all harmful actions,” the prime minister said last week. “We all as individuals must take our responsibility.”