covid-19 in Sweden

The Coronavirus in Sweden



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Tomorrow several countries in Northern Europe will reopen their borders to one another. But Sweden is excluded from the plan for imposing much lighter lockdown measures. As Eric Sorenson explains, the country has found itself isolated for what many countries have labeled a politically- (fueled decision.

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Through it all, Sweden has looked more normal than almost any country during the pandemic. With distancing guidelines and top-notch health care, the Swedes defied convention by keeping open schools for young children and businesses like restaurants during the first wave of covid-19. Many Swedes are satisfied with the results.

Male Swedish Resident 1: “I’m not going walking around thinking that we have a real disaster in Sweden.”

Female Swedish Resident 2: “I think this one passed. And I’m proud we’re not getting angry and were acting in a more dramatic way about it.”

Much of the credit was given to Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell for a policy that avoided a complete lockdown.

Dr. Anders Tegnell, Epidemiologist: “It’s working and this we have delivered results.”

But it turns out the Swedes have been relatively hard-hit: Sweden has had close to 5,000 deaths from covid-19, the largest number in Scandinavia. For its population, that’s 47 deaths per 100,000 in Sweden; neighboring Denmark has had only 10 deaths per 100,000, and Norway just over 4 deaths per capita. In Sweden many lives were lost in long-term care facilities.

Acknowledging there’s room for improvement Anders Tegnell recently told Swedish radio, if faced with the same disease again, his country would do something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done. It’s a disappointment for anyone who’d hoped the Swedish model would succeed with a softer quarantine.

Raywat Deonandon, Epidemiologist: “What they had was an enormous breaks among their elderly, resulting in very high death rate amongst the elderly. But data suggests that the Swedish economy is suffering as well. So in that respect they’ve failed.”

In the mean time, Denmark and Norway planned to open their borders on Monday to each other and to Germany and Iceland — but not to Sweden, yet.

Mette Frederiksen, Danish Prime Minister: “Denmark is in a different place from Sweden’s,” said the Danish Prime Minister when it comes to the coronavirus. Sweden calls it a political decision. It feels closing the border won’t make it any safer.

Ann Linde, Swedish Foreign Minister: “Our communicable expert says that that is not a good thing for hindering the spreading of the virus. So that’s is then a political decision and we don’t want to take that political decision because we are going to live together also afterwards.”

Sweden defends the balance it has struck saying this is a marathon not a sprint.

Dr. Anders Tegnell, Epidemiologist: : “It’s been right; perfectly okay. But it’s very sad that a lot of elderly people are dying at the elderly care homes.”

But he shakes his head because in the end there seems to be no easy way out of the pandemic. For Sweden and every country, the search continues for a way to normalize life and the economy without costing lives.

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1. All Scandinavian countries followed the same strategy in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. True or false?

2. Did the Swedish government impose a strict lockdown?

3. The main proponent of Sweden’s lax approach was the prime minister. Is this right or wrong?

4. Has Sweden had a low covid-19 infection and death rate among its population?

5. Do Swedish authorities regret their strategy and policy or fully embrace it?

6. Sweden’s elderly population has suffered, but it’s economy remained in tact. Is this correct or incorrect?

7. Is there only one straightforward solution to solve the problem?


A. Has your region or country dealt with the covid-19 epidemic similarly to that of Sweden or Denmark?

B. Has there been endless discussions, debates, arguments and controversy regarding the coronavirus?

C. What may be the best way to contain and eliminate covid-19?

D. What might happen in the future?

E. The coronavirus outbreak has been entirely, 100% negative for everyone. What do you think?

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