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'We do a lot to fight this pandemic,' insists Sweden's EU Affairs Minister

Virus Outbreak Sweden's Approach
Virus Outbreak Sweden's Approach Copyright Anders Wiklund/TT/ANDERS WIKLUND
Copyright Anders Wiklund/TT/ANDERS WIKLUND
By Louise Miner
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The Swedish government has advised people to work from home where possible and avoid crowded places after more than 10,000 confirmed cases and nearly 900 deaths from COVID-19. But they're finding themselves on the end of criticism for their approach.


Sweden has so far resisted the temptation to implement a country-wide lockdown in order to contain contagion from COVID-19. But they are very much under scrutiny for what many see as an overly laissez-faire approach. 

The government has advised people to work from home where possible and avoid crowded places. But this is only advice. Systems are not in place formally to stop people from gathering together.

As of Monday 13 April the country has more than 10,000 confirmed cases and over 900 deaths linked to the coronavirus, but Sweden's neighbours Denmark, Finland, and Norway, were among the first European states to impose lockdowns as the virus spread.

Sweden's Minister for EU Affairs Hans Dahlgren told Euronews why Sweden chose not to introduce more stringent lockdown measures.

"I think we do a lot to fight this pandemic, to help stop the spread of this virus and also to protect those who are most vulnerable. And we do it with a combination of laws, of course. We have forbidden the universities and schools to continue with the education; we have forbidden visitors to visit the homes of the elderly; we've really encouraged everyone over 70-years-old to stay at home; we encourage everyone who can, to work from home."

"We have a lot of social distancing but this is not based on laws made by parliament but made by recommendations from our public health authorities and they're very well respected in my country, you can always see exceptions of course, but generally, this is something that people understand is serious, they take it seriously and they understand why they need to do it."

But is it enough?

"That we won't know until afterwards. Every country will have to be judged on what has been the result in the end."

Is it worth taking that risk?

"I'm saying that the evaluation of what every country has been doing, must be monitored after we know at the end of the crisis. But where we are right now in the crisis, we are ready to take any action necessary and we are really asking the Swedish people not to travel over this Easter vacation, not to go to work, not to go outside the house if you have any sign of the illness and also to keep social distancing - this is very much the thing that was also made all over Europe and we have to fight this together."

Meanwhile, Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said, "It has not been good enough. It's evident to everyone on many different aspects and that's why we have adopted a National Security strategy and that includes perspectives and it has to do with everything from water supply to cybersecurity."

Watch the full interview with the EU Affairs Minister by clicking onto the play button above.

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