Sweden coronavirus strategy: Why is Sweden not in lockdown?

Swathes of Europe are currently under strict lockdown measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. But Sweden is currently carrying on as usual, with bars, restaurants and sports clubs remaining open.

Despite the neighbouring countries of Denmark and Norway closing down, Sweden has only recently introduced measures to close down universities.

Gatherings of more than 50 people have also been limited, but no businesses have been closed down like in other countries.

As of March 30, the country has recorded 110 deaths as a result of coronavirus.

COVID-19 cases in Sweden are starting to increase, with 3,700 confirmed infections.

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So why is Sweden bucking the current trend in its approach to tackling coronavirus?

Sweden’s Public Health Agency lead epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, told CNBC: “My view is that basically all European countries are trying to do the same thing — we’re trying to slow down the spread as much as possible to keep healthcare and society working … and we have shown some different methods to slow down the spread.

“Sweden has gone mostly for voluntary measures because that’s how we’re used to working.

“And we have a long tradition that it works rather well.”

There is a high level of trust in the advice given by the authorities in Sweden.

Mr Tegnell added opinion polls show the Swedish public are largely in favour of the current approach to tackle COVID-19.

He said: “The incline (in infection and death rates) in Sweden is less steep than in many countries and that’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve.”

If coronavirus cases rapidly increase like is the case with other European countries, such as Italy and Spain, Sweden may be forced to harden its current strategy with stricter measures.

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Dr Emma Frans, an epidemiologist based at Swedish medical university The Karolinska Institute, told the BBC there needs to be “clearer instructions” on public interaction.

She said: “I think people are prone to listen to the recommendations, but in this kind of critical situation, I am not sure that it’s enough.”

Elsewhere in Europe, Italy has been told by its prime minister Giuseppe Conte to prepare for a “very long” lockdown.

Italy has enforced one of the strictest lockdowns in the world to tackle the spread of the virus, which has rapidly increased to 97,689 cases as of March 30.

Italy also has the highest coronavirus death toll of any other country, with 10,779 deaths.

Following measures introduced last week by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the UK has recently come under stricter social distancing measures.

Under rules in the UK, people are no longer allowed to leave their homes unless it is to purchase essentials or to take daily exercise.

People can travel to work if it is absolutely necessary, but are being advised to work from home.

Gyms, clubs, bars and restaurants have all closed.

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