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Coronavirus: Is hard-hit Sweden being snubbed by its Scandinavian neighbours?

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Sweden's PM Stefan Lofven gives a press conference about the situation on the COVID-19 pandemic, at the government headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 29, 2020.
Sweden's PM Stefan Lofven gives a press conference about the situation on the COVID-19 pandemic, at the government headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 29, 2020.   -   Copyright  JONATHAN NACKSTRAND / AFP
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Sweden has attracted international attention for its relaxed approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

In contrast to its neighbours in Scandinavia, Stockholm didn't impose a strict lockdown.

Larger gatherings were banned and universities closed, but schools remained open to younger children and restaurants and bars kept serving.

But, now that lockdown is gradually being lifted, are Sweden's neighbours snubbing the country over its coronavirus strategy?

Denmark has announced that from June 15 it will open its borders to travellers from Germany, Norway and Iceland.

A decision on whether to open the border with neighbouring Sweden will be taken after the summer.

Norway, meanwhile, has agreed to open its border with Denmark but has yet to make a decision on Sweden.

Sweden's higher COVID-19 death rate

While the death rate per million people in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland respectively stands at 99.4, 57.8, 43.5 and 29.3. In Sweden, it was 435.9, as of Tuesday, June 2.

Around 75% of COVID-19 fatalities in Sweden originated in care homes.

Sweden's health authorities initially defended their approach to the pandemic, but the government later admitted that it failed to adequately protect its older residents.

Nevertheless, the government remains confident its approach will prove successful, in the long run.

"Transmission is slowing down, the treatment of COVID-19 patients in intensive care is decreasing significantly and the rising death toll curve has been flattened," said foreign minister Ann Linde on May 25, adding that "it is far too early to measure the final result by taking a snapshot in the middle of the race. This is not a sprint, it's a marathon".

Sweden's opposition parties have called for an independent commission to investigate the government's response to the health crisis.

The country has recorded over 38,500 coronavirus cases and more than 4,400 related deaths so far, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.