Sweden is the pilot experience of another way to combat the epidemic
Comparisons with other Nordic countries do not resolve the dispute over whether they are correct or make a serious mistake
Sweden’s softest policy in the face of coronavirus expansion It has become a pilot experience observed by the rest of the world. It does not follow the example of China with its complete closure of the movement of people in Wuhan, nor the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the same method is applied. And the Swedish authorities also do it in the name of science.
Sweden had yesterday morning a cumulative total of 5,466 positives and 282 deaths attributed to Covid-19. Half of the infections detected and 72% of fatalities were located in Stockholm, according to official statistical tables. The highest number of infected is between 50 and 59 years old. The overwhelming majority of the deceased was over 70.
In recent days, the progress of the infection does not have the percentages that are identified in countries with more vertical curves. Has frequently risen above 10% from the previous date, but there are also minor ascents and even descents. Critics predict that the curve will simply skyrocket very soon.
The reason is that the instructions and recommendations of the Swedish public health agency (Folkhalsomyndigheten) to prevent the spread of the virus sound benign compared to other countries. Bars and restaurants are warned that they should only offer table service, under penalty of closure. To the population, to work at home if they can, and to isolate themselves if they have symptoms of the disease.
A former head of the agency and who has belonged to structures of the WHO and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the European Union, Johan Giesecke, has strongly recommended that people take to the streets: “Many people are sitting at home. They should go out and walk in the spring sun. Get some fresh air, call a friend and walk a meter away. It is dangerous for your health to be sitting at home ».
It is argued that the low number of cases in Sweden, Norway or Finland maybe because they are countries with a very low population density. The four Nordic countries of the EU, however, have urbanization rates higher than that of Spain (80%), and in cities, the virus invades more easily. Denmark, with a higher density (136 inhabitants per square kilometre) – Sweden, 24, Spain, 94- and has fewer identified cases, 3,386.
That leads critics of the Swedish example to point out that the Danish government of Mette Frederiksen took a more radical position from the start. It closed the country’s borders on March 13 and between 17 and 23 it advanced from restrictions to confinement. In Sweden, the ski resorts have announced with regret that the Swedes will not be able to go to them during the Easter holidays because they close this weekend.
When Danish Frederiksen was asked why she skipped scientific advice when she decided to close the border, she replied: “If we have to wait for evidence-based knowledge, we will always be late”. Denmark has 57% of Sweden’s population and 61% of its neighbour’s infections. The weak coherence of the figures for this epidemic and the tightness of the comparison does not offer a solution to the dilemma.
Sweden has adopted the model pursued by the United Kingdom in its first policy against the virus, although emphasizing from the beginning of the isolation of the elderly and vulnerable patients. The reason for this divergence would be that the Constitution grants the responsibility of fighting the epidemic to the public health entity and the Government forces it to obey it.