In the past two weeks, the Health Agency of Sweden has recorded a sharp decline in Covid-19 figures. Average daily recorded deaths have fallen to under 10, while average number of new cases has dropped well under 200.
The country has not seen such low numbers since late March. As of Tuesday, Sweden had 79,395 total confirmed Covid-19 cases and 5,700 confirmed deaths.
“The curves are going down and the curves for the seriously ill are beginning to approach zero,” the country’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said on Tuesday, briefing journalists on the situation.
Sweden took a controversial approach to Covid-19, going against the prevailing line of reasoning and not imposing a mandatory national lockdown, relying on its citizens to take precautions instead. Despite low recent numbers, the country still has one of the world’s highest total number of deaths per capita, surpassing in that metric Covid-19 underachievers like the US and Brazil.
Tegnell defended the strategy, saying it would be more effective in the long run by avoiding lockdown fatigue among Swedes. He did acknowledge failing in some areas, preventing the spread of the deadly virus among residents of elderly care facilities. Last month the Swedish government launched a commission to investigate the response.
Sweden’s maverick handling of the coronavirus has been closely watched internationally and has its fans and critics. The latter jumped at the chance to say ‘we told you so’ after Tegnell seemed to make a U-turn in an interview, but the policymaker later clarified that he’d done no such thing.
In his latest update, Tegnell may have fanned the flames of the Covid-19 debate in other nations with a remark about face masks. “With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport,” he said.
With the numbers going down, Sweden is bucking the trend in many other European nations, including Germany, France, Spain, Romania and Bulgaria, which have been reporting a resurgence of Covid-19 in the past several weeks.
Tegnell said the situation on the continent was “worrying”, but didn’t mandate a travel ban, since the latest outbreaks were limited to certain regions of the affected countries.