STOCKHOLM – The King of Sweden has said his country has failed in its management of Covid-19, in a scathing criticism of a pandemic policy partly responsible for the high death toll among the elderly.
“I think we have failed,” said the king in an excerpt from a program broadcast on Wednesday by SVT. The full show will air on December 21.
Carl XVI Gustaf, whose son and daughter-in-law tested positive last month, used an annual Royal Christmas TV special to highlight the growing impact of the virus, in a rare intervention by a monarch whose the functions are largely ceremonial.
Sweden stood out from most countries by avoiding lockdowns and face masks, leaving schools, restaurants and businesses wide open, and relying primarily on voluntary social distancing and hygiene recommendations to slow the spread.
An official commission said on Tuesday that systemic shortcomings in elderly care, coupled with inadequate government and agency measures, have contributed to the particularly high number of deaths in nursing homes in Sweden.
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“We’ve had a lot of deaths and it’s terrible. It is something that makes us all suffer. “
Sweden has recorded more than 7,800 deaths, a per capita rate much higher than its Nordic neighbors but lower than that of Britain, Italy, Spain or France, which have all opted for the locking.
The 74-year-old king has no formal political power and rarely comments on current and political issues, despite reaching out to the nation to offer encouragement during the outbreak.
In the spring, the government’s response to the pandemic was widely supported by the Swedes who continued to operate as usual while most of Europe was in lockdown.
But the growing death toll – especially among elderly residents of nursing homes – has drawn growing criticism.
A poll published Thursday in the daily Dagens Nyheter showed that around a third of Swedes expressed a high level of confidence in the authorities’ handling of the pandemic, up from 42% in March and a peak of 56% after the lull summer infections.