Why Sweden is unlikely to make a U-turn on its controversial Covid-19 strategy | Tae Hoon Kim
For a foreigner living here, the country’s approach to handling the crisis is worrying, but it is partly explained by its history
Sweden has received considerable media scrutiny in recent days. According to figures published on Tuesday, it now has the highest coronavirus-per-capita death rate in the world, with an average of 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants a day on a rolling seven-day average between 13 and 20 May. As of 22 May, Sweden has had 32,172 confirmed cases and 3,871 deaths. These figures are lower than those of Italy or the UK. But they are higher than those of Portugal and Greece, two countries with a similar size of population to Sweden. The figures are also much higher than Sweden’s Nordic neighbours, with Denmark at 11,182 cases and 561 deaths, Norway at 8,309 and 235, and Finland at 6,537 and 306.
International observers and critics within Sweden blame these depressing figures on its controversial Covid-19 strategy. Unlike the rest of Europe, or what is often cited as the exemplar nation of South Korea, Sweden has not imposed any lockdowns nor carried out mass testing. Its policy has been to slow the spread of the virus by exhorting its citizens to practise voluntary social distancing.