Carl XVI Gustaf told residents of the country in his annual Christmas address that Sweden has suffered “tremendously” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and that it is “traumatic” that many relatives of the nearly 8,000 people who died from COVID-19 were unable to say goodbye to them in person.
“I think we failed. We have a large number of deaths and it is terrible. This is something we all have to suffer from, ”the king said in comments that were published Thursday and will be released in full on Monday, as translated by the Financial Times.
Sweden has resisted the implementation of a nationwide lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, unlike many of its other European countries.
However, Swedish officials are reportedly considering implementing lockdowns as some of the country’s intensive care units reach capacity, The New York Times reported this week.
Sweden reported around 1,700 deaths from COVID-19 last month, compared to around 100 deaths each in Finland and Norway. The two countries have around half of the Swedish population.
The king, asked if he was afraid of being infected with the coronavirus, said: “Lately it has felt more noticeable. He got closer and closer. It’s not what you want, ”according to the Financial Times.
Sweden’s leading infectious disease expert said late last month the country had not seen evidence of herd immunity slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Collective immunity is the time when a disease stops spreading widely in a population because a sufficient number of individuals are immunized to it, either through recovery from infection or through vaccination.