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15 Dec, 2020 15:27

Inquiry finds Swedish govt ‘bears ultimate responsibility’ over failures to protect elderly from Covid-19 pandemic

Inquiry finds Swedish govt ‘bears ultimate responsibility’ over failures to protect elderly from Covid-19 pandemic

An official commission has published damning findings which say that responsibility for Sweden’s relatively high Covid-19 death rate lies with the government, after the coronavirus ravaged ill-prepared nursing homes.

On Tuesday, the commission published its first interim report into the impact of Sweden’s approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, stating that the government did not do enough to ensure that elderly people were protected, as the state only introduced minimal restrictions on the lives of ordinary citizens.

“These shortcomings meant that elderly care was unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with a pandemic,” the commission said in a statement, adding that previously known structural problems within the elderly care system were not corrected.  

The employees in elderly care were largely left alone to handle the crisis situation.

The report states that the Swedish Public Health Agency and the National Board of Health and Welfare should have placed greater emphasis on conditions in special housing, notably nursing homes. 

“For these shortcomings, the incumbent government – like the previous governments that had this knowledge – bears the ultimate responsibility,” the commission noted. 

The government announced that an independent commission would be launched in the summer, after it emerged that Sweden’s chosen path in dealing with the Covid outbreak, without the harder lockdown measures deployed by many other countries, had resulted in a vast number of preventable deaths. 

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While Sweden’s herd immunity approach was lauded by many when the pandemic began, nine months later there are few signs of such immunity within the population. 

Sweden has suffered a disproportionately large number of Covid deaths compared to neighboring countries. 

There have been 73.79 deaths per 100,000 people due to the virus in Sweden, almost 10 times the figure in neighboring Norway and Finland. 

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Statistics published by the government on Monday show that the country suffered the highest number of deaths in November since the Spanish flu a century ago. 

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