SWEDEN is a famously liberal state, something that its residents are normally proud of. However, their approach to the coronavirus scare has been seen by many as overly unrestrictive and many Swedes are demanding curbs on people’s movements to avoid a serious epidemic. They are the last major European country to keep schools, bars and restaurants open and there is no official lockdown, only an advisory one. As happened in countries such as the UK where the onus was originally left to the public, a lot of people have chosen to ignore the advice and carry on with life as normal. Images of packed bars across the larger cities regularly appear on social media and while shops are quieter the streets are still busy.
Universities have been closed and care home visits banned but many feel Sweden is now a ticking timebomb for the deadly virus. Pensioners have also been told to stay at home – and the vast majority are complying, slowing the spread to the most vulnerable. There are both economic and social reasons for the Swedish approach, and time will tell if it is the right one. There have been 4,000 reported infections to date (1 April) and 180 deaths – but as things stand the fatality rate is not rising any higher than most European countries.