The Government is holding out against a total lockdown despite growing calls for “rapid and radical measures” to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Sweden announced plans for an aggressive testing regime. This could see 100,000 tests administered as the number of cases exceeded 13,000.
Speaking to local media, Dr Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden’s controversial strategy, claimed that the population of Stockholm could achieve “herd immunity” as early as next month.
Stokholm is currently the epicenter of the country’s outbreak.
Dr Tegnell said: “According to our modellers [at the Public Health Agency of Sweden], we are starting to see so many immune people in the population in Stockholm that it is starting to have an effect on the spread of the infection.
“Our models point to some time in May.”
He told Norwegian TV: “These are mathematical models, they’re only as good as the data we put into them.
“We will see if they are right.”
So far, the Swedish government has cancelled football games and closed university buildings.
However, restaurants, cinemas, gyms, pubs, and shops remain open.
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This is despite the national death toll being recorded at 1,511, with 13,822 confirmed cases.
When asked about the death rate, Dr Tegnell said: “It is not a failure for the overall strategy, but it is a failure to protect our elderly who live in care homes.”
Sweden has been described as an “outlier” as it refuses to impose an EU-style lockdown, despite its coronavirus-related death rate rising.
Currently around 50 per cent of the Swedish workforce is working from home, while public transport has fallen by 50 per cent in Stockholm.
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The capital is around 70 per cent less busy.
However, Swedes can still go shopping, eat out at restaurants, get haircuts, and send children younger than 16 to class.
The Government has faced rising criticism of its policy, with many critics concerned the rising death toll indicates the government’s relaxed approach is misguided.
In a joint letter published in Aftonbladet last week, more than 900 teachers and school staff said it was physically impossible to practice social-distancing.
On Thursday, the Swedish parliament passed a controversial new law.
The legislation grants the Government temporary powers to quickly adopt measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus without prior parliamentary approval.
This allows the Government to close businesses, limit public gatherings or shut down ports and airports, as well as a number of other measures.
“It is important that the Government has access to more tools in the fight against the coronavirus if they should prove necessary,” MP Kristina Nilsson argued.
However, after objections from opposition parties, the bill was amended.
Now if the Government decides to enforce a measure, lawmakers can vote to rescind the measure if deemed unnecessary.
The new powers came into force yesterday and last until the end of June.
The government has already banned non-essential travel to Sweden from outside the EU.
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