Anders Tegnell: tougher restrictions not the right response to third Covid wave

Architect of Sweden’s hands-off strategy advocates sticking to existing rules

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Tougher restrictions will not bring the third wave of coronavirus under control in Sweden, the architect of the country’s hands-off approach to the health crisis said.

Sweden, which has shunned strict lockdowns throughout the pandemic, recorded a near 10 per cent increase in Covid-19 admissions to intensive care last week.

The infection rate surged, with the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 rising by 16,427 since Friday, up from 14,063 cases week-on-week.

 

But epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said the country didn’t need additional restrictions.

"To shut more hasn't been shown to be a success story," Dr Tegnell said in an interview in daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

"What we need is more adherence to the advice and the restrictions already in place. I am extremely convinced that we have implemented the most important measures already.”

Most of Sweden’s schools remained open during the pandemic, but the government has gradually enforced limitations on public gatherings, opening hours for restaurants, alcohol sales and the number of people allowed in shops, among other measures.

Surveys show that people are paying less attention to the rules than before.

The country has registered more than 13,000 Covid-19 deaths, a rate per capita that is many times higher than that of its Nordic neighbours who opted for harder measures.

But excess mortality – a measure of how many more deaths a country has recorded than in an average period – was less in Sweden in 2020 than in most European countries.