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15 Apr, 2020 08:56

Researchers blast Swedish govt for lax Covid-19 strategy, claim country’s death toll headed for ‘heights of Italy’

Researchers blast Swedish govt for lax Covid-19 strategy, claim country’s death toll headed for ‘heights of Italy’

A group of 22 researchers has penned a letter demanding “swift and radical action” by the Swedish government to prevent the further spread of coronavirus in the country and the potential collapse of its healthcare system.

The scientists published an open letter lambasting the government for its herd immunity strategy and claiming the Swedish health authorities had failed the country as few, if any, restrictions have been put in place.  

According to the group, Sweden’s Public Health Agency has claimed at least four times that the country’s rate of infection has plateaued, only for the figures to rise ever higher. 

They are not inclined to change their recommendations, even when Sweden’s curves start to differ radically from those of neighboring countries.

For context, Sweden has 11,445 confirmed cases of infection and a death toll of 1,033 so far.

Also on rt.com Sweden’s flawed coronavirus battle plan hits the poor & elderly, resulting in worst death count among Nordic countries

Meanwhile, the figures from Sweden’s neighbors, all of whom have imposed far stricter measures on movement and public activity, are far lower. Their restrictive measures included shuttering schools, closing bars, cafes and restaurants and severely curtailing public gatherings. 

Denmark has recorded 6,706 confirmed cases and 299 deaths, Norway reports 6,623 infected and 139 deaths while Finland reports just 3,161 confirmed cases and only 64 deaths.

Unlike its Nordic neighbors, Sweden opted instead to put its faith in social distancing and voluntary self-isolation, while forgoing any government-mandated lockdowns. 

“This is because they have received questionable messages from the Public Health authority and our elected officials,” Jan Lötvall, a professor of clinical allergies at the University of Gothenburg, said.

“If we do not take powerful action now, we will have to do it later,” he added.

Also on rt.com Sweden using ice rinks and shipping containers as morgues overflow due to Covid-19 deaths

In their latest letter, the researchers call on the government to introduce a range of measures, including the immediate closure of schools and restaurants, mass testing of healthcare workers and enforced quarantines among families in the event of a confirmed infection.

However, the man behind the government’s strategy, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, doesn’t share their viewpoint. 

“I don't understand what they mean. The healthcare system has always been in control,” Tegnell said. “If you look at the curve, we have consistently had around 60 dead per day. We have had an unfortunate development in elderly care, and we have started to work hard on that.”

Tegnell pointed to New York, which has roughly the same population as Sweden but ten times the death toll, as an example of the apparent failure of lockdown. 

He also highlighted discrepancies in the way individual countries count their Covid-19 dead as muddying the waters, opting instead for a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the data, before adopting any hasty measures which might damage Sweden’s economy.

Previously, more than 2,300 researchers demanded a more restrictive approach, in an open letter at the end of March, but so far it appears authorities have ignored their pleas.

Also on rt.com Sweden’s teens warned to stop deliberately coughing on the elderly in despicable ‘coronavirus challenge’

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