Sweden, which has gained international attention for its softer approach to curbing the spread of the new coronavirus, said Wednesday its death toll had passed the 5,000 mark.
According to figures released by the country’s Public Health Agency, a total of 5,041 deaths linked to COVID-19 have been reported from 54,562 confirmed cases.
Sweden’s death toll has far surpassed the tolls in neighbouring Nordic countries, which have all imposed more restrictive containment measures.
According to AFP’s database, Sweden’s virus death rate of 499 per million inhabitants is far higher than Norway’s 45 per million, Denmark’s 103, or Finland’s 59.
However it is still lower than that of the UK at 618 per million, Italy at 569, and Spain at 580.
Critics have accused Swedish authorities of gambling with citizens’ lives by not imposing strict stay-at-home measures.
But the Public Health Agency has insisted its approach is sustainable in the long-term and has rejected drastic short-term measures as too ineffective to justify their impact on society.
The Scandinavian country has kept schools open for children under the age of 16, along with cafes, bars, restaurants and businesses, while urging people to respect social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell stressed that while cumulative figures were going up, the number of newly reported deaths seemed to go down and significantly fewer were being treated in intensive care, compared to the peak in early April.
Following its own path has led to the country’s reputation taking a hit.
As many European nations reopened their borders on Monday, at least seven countries barred Swedes from entering—including closest neighbours Denmark, Norway and Finland—and five others required them to quarantine if they do enter.
© 2020 AFP
Sweden’s virus death toll tops 5,000: health officials (2020, June 17)
retrieved 17 June 2020
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