Swedish Prime Minister defends COVID strategy of criticism over death toll

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden has chosen the right strategy to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, said Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on Friday, and decided his government’s decision not to take a strict lockdown like many Europeans countries have done.

FILEFOTO: The Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Lofven leaves a meeting at the EU summit, amid the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium beginning 21 July 2020. REUTERS / Johanna Geron / Pool

More than 5,800 Swedes have died from COVID 19, a much higher death rate than in neighboring Norway, Denmark and Finland, which took much tougher measures than Sweden, leading many to question the government’s approach.

But Lofven said Sweden had made the right choice.

“The strategy we have adopted, I believe, is right – to protect individuals, limit the spread of infection, etc.,” he said in an interview with the daily Dagens Nyheter.

“What was most discussed, and what we did differently in Sweden, was that we do not close schools. Now there are quite a few people who think we were right. ”

While many countries maintained strict confinement, Sweden relied primarily on voluntary measures aimed at social distance, although public meetings were restricted and nursing homes – which saw a heavy death toll – in quarantine.

Although Sweden has seen more deaths than its neighbors, it has not been as badly affected as countries like Britain and Spain, which have adopted much stricter exclusion measures.

Furthermore, although many parts of Europe are seeing a new turnaround as they gradually loosen restrictions on travel and social interactions, Sweden has seen a decline in infections and deaths in recent weeks.

Lofven also defended the Public Health Agency’s decision not to enforce wearing mask masks, as many European countries have done, to combat the spread of the virus.

“What they say, and what I absolutely believe, is that they may not be the most important tool we use,” Lofven said.

“What is still important is social distance, testing and tracking. That should be our main focus to reduce infection. ”

Report by Simon Johnson; Edited by Alistair Bell

Our standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.