It’s been labelled risky, reckless, an outlier. Sweden has been at the centre of much debate over the past few weeks. Why has it not ruthlessly pursued lockdown like everyone else? Is it doing the right thing?
Well, the Swedes themselves seem to think so, with overwhelming support for their government’s decisions and the advice of scientists.
This is not a country divided. And we should also be clear that this is not a country that has done nothing. It has banned large gatherings, closed high schools and universities and told elderly people to self-isolate.
But restaurants, bars, primary schools and most businesses are still open. The country has forged its odd path. And in absolute terms, unfortunately, more people so far have died compared to its Nordic neighbours.
At the time of writing, Sweden has 14,777 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,580 people have died. If we compare that to Norway, which has half the population, it has seen 7,156 cases – or approximately half of that of Sweden – and the much-lower figure of 181 deaths. Finland, which has a population similar to Norway’s, has seen 4,014 COVID-19 cases and 98 fatalities.