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COVID-19: High Mortality Rates In Sweden Underscore Flawed Policies

Sweden has recorded the most coronavirus deaths per capita in Europe. Sweden’s death rate stood at 371 per million inhabitants on Tuesday, roughly eight times the rate in Norway and Finland, according to the Worldometer website. The Financial Times’ coronavirus tracker also put Sweden as the country with the highest death rate per capita. As of Wednesday, 3,831 people had died from Covid-19 in Sweden, a country with a population of 10m.

The FT tracker shows that Sweden had 6.4 deaths per million people 61 days after its death rate first climbed above 0.1 deaths per million. That contrasts with the UK’s 6.2 deaths per million at the same stage, Italy’s 5.5, and Spain’s 4. For countries citing Sweden as an exemplary mode, a cautionary tale is right there in front of them. “I think there may be lessons to be learnt from our colleagues in Sweden,” WHO’s emergencies chief Michael Ryan said.

While people in other European countries have gradually started to return to their workplaces in recent weeks, Swedes have been strongly advised to continue working from home, and that too, not just for weeks, but for months, reported a Swedish News agency. Denmark, Finland and Norway are debating whether to maintain travel restrictions on Sweden after it overtook the UK, Italy and Belgium in recent days on fatality rates.

It is worth noting that Sweden never imposed full lockdown measures. Children have continued to go to school and patrons have not been stopped from going to cafes, bars and restaurants. Although people were urged to limit contacts and practise social distancing, the restrictions were advisory. People are seen strolling in public places like parks in Sweden. 

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