Anti-lockdown Sweden had the highest rate of Covid-19 infections in Europe per capita last week
- Sweden has recorded 625 new infections per million people in the past seven days
- The number is vastly higher than neighbouring Nordic countries and other European states including Germany and the United Kingdom
- Sweden made headlines around the world by never imposing the type of lockdown seen elsewhere in Europe
- It began tightening measures in the face of a stronger than expected second wave at the start of the year
- Last week also saw more patients in intensive care than at any other time since the first wave of the pandemic
The lockdown-averse country recorded 625 new infections per million people in the past seven days, vastly highest than its Scandinavian neighbours, with Finland, Norway and Denmark, recording 65, 132, 111 cases per million respectively.
Sweden, which has one of the worst vaccine programmes in Europe, also had more patients in intensive care than at any other time since the first wave of the pandemic last spring.
The country of 10 million has given at least one vaccine dose to 13 per cent of its population, this compares to nearly half the people in Britain and an average of 16 per cent of EU citizens.
Sweden made headlines around the world by never imposing the type of lockdown seen elsewhere in Europe but it started tightening measures in the face of a stronger than expected second wave at the start of the year.
Sweden had the highest number of Covid-19 infections per capita in Europe last week. The lockdown-averse country also had more patients in intensive care than at any other time since the first wave of the pandemic last spring. Pictured: People enjoy outside dining in Stockholm on March 26 [File photo]
As of Monday, 392 people were in intensive care with coronavirus, according to the Swedish intensive care registry.
That surpasses the second-wave peak of 389 in January, according to the country’s intensive care registry, but is lower than the overall peak of 588 patients seen during spring last year, The Guardian reported.
Sweden’s death toll has so far avoided the sharp rise seen in infections and ICU figures due to many of the most vulnerable having received vaccines.
Sweden has recorded 625 new infections per million people in the past seven days, according to ourworldindata.org
The number of cases recorded per million people in Sweden over the last week is vastly higher than those seen in neighbouring Nordic countries or other European states
However Prime Minister Stefan Lofven postponed an easing of some measures until at least May 3 on advice from the country’s public health agency.
Lofven insists that tougher restrictions are not yet needed, noting that many in the country were voluntarily following more intensive restrictions than those imposed by the government.
Some of the rules that were due to be eased at the end of March included allowing more people to attend concerts and football matches.
Schools and non-essential shops have largely remained open in Sweden though customer numbers are limited and some regions shuttered schools.
Bars and restaurants continue to operate under restrictions on alcohol sales and reduced opening hours.
Health Minister Lena Hallengren said last week that the government had introduced measures it saw as necessary.
Sweden’s death toll has so far avoided the sharp rise seen in infections and ICU figures due to many of the most vulnerable having received vaccines
‘Whether that has been sufficient, is not a judgment that I can sit here and make,’ she told MPs, adding that the government’s policy had been to ‘put lives and health first and protect the healthcare system as much as we can.’
She added that the government had not wanted to excessively impact people’s private lives or bring the country to a standstill.
But as levels of adherence fell in recent weeks, Sweden’s top epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, urged people to comply with restrictions.
‘We need to get out into the local civil society and we have a lot of dialogue with regional governments now on how we can use different organisations to reach people and stress how important it is to keep our distance a little bit more,’ he told a bi-weekly press conference held by the public health agency on March 31.
‘It’s about motivating people again,’ he said.
Sweden has reported some 857,000 infections and 13,621 deaths from coronavirus since the pandemic began last year.
Pictured: People queue to receive a vaccine against coronavirus in Stockholm on April 8