Sweden’s strategy to tackle the coronavirus is similar to that adopted by many other countries even though it has not been put into lockdown, two cabinet members say.
“It is a myth that life goes on as normal in Sweden,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde told a webcast press briefing on Friday.
Sweden has drawn international attention over not introducing a lockdown and – unlike several neighbouring countries – not closed restaurants or bars.
Guests must be served sitting at tables – with a safe distance from each other.
“Many people stay at home and have stopped travelling, many business are collapsing, unemployment is expected to rise dramatically,” she added.
“There is no full lockdown of Sweden but many parts of Swedish society have shut down,” Linde said.
Linde attended the briefing with Lena Hallengren, minister for health and social affairs, and Johan Carlson who heads the Public Health Agency.
Where Sweden differed was that it has not closed kindergartens and schools from grades 1-9, and people have not been forced to stay at home, Hallengren said.
She said the government’s aim was to limit the spread of infection and ensure that heathcare services remained available.
Hallengren conceded that “the high numbers of infected people at the homes for elderly care is … one of our major concerns”.
It was not not clear why the infection had spread there, she said.
The Public Health Agency has estimated that about a third of Sweden’s virus-related deaths have been in care homes.
The agency had by Friday recorded about 13,200 coronavirus cases and 1,400 COVID-19 fatalities.
Carlson said the strong drop in cases of seasonal influenza was an indication that social distancing was working.