SWEDEN sees a “very positive” drop in coronavirus cases following a controversial decision not to go into lockdown, its leading epidemiologist has said.
Andres Tegnell called the current trends “promising” and said he saw “no point” in asking locals to wear face masks.
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Sweden has been a special case in its response to the coronavirus and, unlike most countries around the world, has never imposed a full lockdown.
People were asked to work from home when possible, to avoid unnecessary travel and social distancing.
The government has also banned gatherings of more than 50 people, banned visits to retirement homes, and closed high schools and universities.
Primary schools remained open, in part to allow more health professionals to continue working.
At the height of the epidemic, the country was seeing 1,800 cases of coronavirus diagnosed per day, but that figure has now fallen to double digits.
There has been speculation that the lighter approach will allow the Swedish population to develop ‘herd immunity’, but the extent to which recovered coronavirus patients benefit from immunity remains unclear.
Speaking to reporters in Stockholm on Tuesday, Tegnell said: “The curves are going down and the curves on seriously ill people are starting to be very close to zero.
“Overall, it’s very positive. ”
He also addressed the issue of face masks, which the World Health Organization continues to recommend for people to use when social distancing is not possible.
“With the numbers declining very rapidly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport,” he said.
‘Judge me in a year’
Sweden’s death toll, currently 5,702, is high compared to neighboring countries of similar size.
None of the countries of Denmark, Norway or Finland, each with around half of Sweden’s population, has had its tolls exceeding 1,000.
Many European countries that have started to reopen their borders to foreign visitors still have not allowed entry of people from Sweden.
The country’s healthcare system has also struggled to cope with the impact of the virus, with 45 people being admitted to intensive care at one point each day, although that number has now fallen to only a handful. every week.
In per capita cases, Sweden now has a similar infection rate to the UK, and its government has argued that its strategy would be easier to sustain in the long term.
Speaking to Euronews this week, Jan Albert, professor of infectious disease control at the Karolinska Institute and author of a recent coronavirus study in Sweden, said the issue of herd immunity remained a “big one unknown ”.
“There are so many unknown factors about how many people actually develop antibodies and other types of immune responses after going through the disease, and how much it will take to have had the disease to see herd immunity,” he said. he declared.
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Speaking to Unherd about his country’s response last week, Tegnell said, “Better to have a fuller discussion on this in, say, 12 months after next summer.
“Then I think we can judge more fairly what has been good in some countries and bad in other countries. “