The Swedish king has said the country’s anti-lockdown strategy against the coronavirus has failed as hospitals in the Stockholm area have warned they are struggling to cope with an increase in the number of cases and polls have showed that public confidence in the authorities had plunged to a new low.
“The Swedish people have suffered tremendously under difficult conditions,” King Carl XVI Gustaf told public broadcaster SVT in a year-end interview. “I think we failed. We have a large number of deaths, and it is terrible.
The rare royal reprimand came after Sweden’s two major regions of Stockholm and Skåne announced they had been forced to postpone non-emergency operations as the country’s health sector struggled to cope with a second wave of infections.
“We will manage emergency care, we will manage Covid care,” Skåne regional health director Alf Jönsson said on Wednesday. “But it will come at the expense of other health care.” More than 25% of Covid-19 tests were positive, he said.
Stockholm’s regional health care director said all elective care will be postponed to at least January 31. “My duty now is to do all I can to relieve and help the nursing staff,” said Björn Eriksson. “They have to go on for weeks, months.”
An Ipsos poll for the Dagens Nyheter daily on Thursday showed public support for Anders Tegnell, the country’s chief epidemiologist and architect of its lean strategy, had dropped 13 points to 59%, with confidence in the Agency for public health increased from 68% to 52%. Confidence in the authorities in general has fallen to an all-time high of 34%.
Tegnell insisted in a TV interview that it was too early to say whether the Swedish strategy had failed. “Almost every country is grappling with this,” he told TV4, adding that he was surprised at the scale of the second wave and acknowledging that the situation “was starting to approach the breaking point” In certain regions.
The total number of Covid-related deaths in Sweden, which avoided strict mandatory lockdowns in favor of largely voluntary measures, reached 7,802 on Wednesday, with more than 500 last week and more than 1,800 since early November.
Its toll per million of 766.2 is about 10 times higher than neighboring Norway and Finland and almost five times that of Denmark, but lower than that of some European countries which have imposed lockdowns such as France, the Italy, Spain and Great Britain.
The country’s approach so far has relied mainly on the responsibility of citizens to respect hygiene and distancing recommendations, with shops, bars and restaurants remaining open throughout the pandemic and masks not recommended in outside of hospitals.
As the second wave struck, however, the Public Health Agency and the government issued stricter rules, banning the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m., reducing public gatherings from 50 to eight, and passing schools. secondary to online education.
People have also been told to avoid public transport and crowded stores, limit social interactions to isolated households or people already in regular contact, and not to go to the gym, library, malls or shopping malls. other public places.