Sweden Logs Highest Covid-19 Infections in The EU

Published April 14th, 2021 - 09:21 GMT
Covid-19 infections in Sweden is the highest compared to other EU countries
(Shutterstock/ File Photo)
Sweden has recorded 625 new Covid-19 infections per million people in the past seven days

Sweden had the highest number of Covid-19 infections per capita in Europe last week. 

The lockdown-averse country recorded 625 new infections per million people in the last week, vastly higher than its Scandinavian neighbours, with Finland, Norway and Denmark, recording 65, 132 and 111 cases per million respectively.  

Sweden also had more patients in intensive care than at any other time since the first wave of the pandemic last spring.

Only 13 per cent of Swedes have had at least one dose of the vaccine, making theirs one of the slowest vaccine roll-outs in Europe.

The United Kingdom has administered at least one dose to nearly half its population, while the average across EU member states stands at 16 per cent.  

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. 

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.

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.

'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.   

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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