The price of freedom of movement in Sweden can once again be read from the comparatively high corona numbers. In contrast to their Danish neighbors and other countries, the Swedes have simply not managed to bring their new infection numbers down to a manageable level since the beginning of the year.
Instead, the number recently stagnated at an unchanged high value, now things are clearly going in the wrong direction again. An initial lockdown around Easter is still out of the question for the Swedes for the time being – even if the government has meanwhile created the appropriate options.
“Unfortunately we have had a pretty decent increase of about 18 percent in the past two weeks,” said Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell on Tuesday. After a relatively slight increase in the previous weeks, the new infections are getting faster again, currently there are over 600 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14 days – too many and “not sustainable”, according to Tegnell. “This is a clear moment of concern.”
Death numbers in old people’s homes finally under control
Karin Tegmark Wisell from the Folkhälsomyndigheten health authority had already stated last week: “We are in a situation like the one we had at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic, when there was only a dampening in May.”
So everything is back to normal, despite Corona for over a year? Much has changed in the Swedes’ Corona fight, partly for the positive, partly for the negative: On the one hand, the British virus variant is now the dominant one in almost all Swedish regions, on the other hand, the Scandinavian EU country has its dramatically high death rate in the Finally getting a grip on old people’s homes.
And something has also happened on the much-noticed Swedish Sonderweg. It must be said: The Swedish strategy against the corona virus has never been as relaxed and unbridled as described by lateral thinkers and some opinion leaders.
More permissive than most other EU countries
Yes, the Corona measures were and are much more permissive than in most other EU countries. But no, there was no uninhibited life with the global virus in Bullerbü-Sweden either: restrictions were and still apply here.
Since November only eight people have been allowed to gather, restaurants and pubs have to close at 8.30 p.m. Competitive events, with the exception of top-class sports, were prohibited, and the number of visitors to shops, fitness studios and other facilities was limited. In addition, there are clear appeals to exercise common sense and to stick to recommendations.
Still, all of this has been far more permissive than in most other EU countries. One result of this path was significantly higher numbers of infections, but less severe problems for the economy.
Economic output hardly fell
To date, Sweden has registered more than 750,000 corona cases and 13,300 related deaths. Calculated to the population of ten million inhabitants, more than twice as many infections were recorded as in Germany, and the number of deaths is also higher than in Germany for the entire pandemic. Overall, 7.9 percent more people died in Sweden in the Corona year 2020 than the average between 2015 and 2019. Economic output, on the other hand, fell by a comparatively mild 2.8 percent – compared with 6.4 percent in the entire EU.
According to comparative figures from the EU health authority ECDC, the number of new infections in Sweden was again almost four times as high as in Germany. Something has changed in the Swedish death rate: It has fallen sharply since the end of January and is now much lower per 100,000 inhabitants than in Germany.
“There is still a need to take several measures”
And something else has happened: For a few weeks now, the sword of Damocles has been hanging over all of this in Sweden for the now possible lockdown. At the beginning of 2021, the government created the possibility for more far-reaching measures with a new pandemic law and a corresponding ordinance. Since then, there has been a realistic possibility for Swedes to find themselves in front of closed doors on their way to shops, restaurants or gyms, if the government and authorities consider this to be necessary.
“There is still a need to take several measures, and it may become topical to close parts of Swedish society,” said Minister of Social Affairs Lena Hallengren in mid-February. So far that has not happened. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven remains true to his line with clear appeals. The corona virus does not take into account the holidays, he recently made clear with a view to Easter. The Swedes should therefore please refrain from major celebrations. “The marathon is not over yet.”
Reason instead of prohibition
State epidemiologist Tegnell does not expect his authority to come around the corner with new, tightened restrictions over Easter. “No, not what it currently looks like,” he said on Tuesday in response to a question from a Swedish reporter. It is more important that the existing rules are better adhered to.
The Swedes are therefore – for the time being – continuing to rely on common sense instead of prohibition. On Tuesday, as so often before, Tegnell repeated the recommendations and measures that he has recommended to Swedes over and over again in recent months: wash hands, keep your distance, work from home if possible and whoever feels sick should also stay at home . And above all: get vaccinated!
A total of one million Swedes have already received their first vaccination dose, and more than 400,000 have already received their second. That makes a good twelve percent of all adults in the country. “We’re on the right track,” said the steadfastly calm Tegnell. The effect on the infection situation must first be set. (SDA)
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Published: March 24th, 2021, 10:33 a.m.
Last updated: 24.03.2021, 26 minutes ago