How 'sad' Sweden can learn from neighbouring Norway to stem the tide of Covid-19

Sweden recorded 360 deaths in the past 10 days, higher than Norway’s entire toll since the start of pandemic

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One of Norway’s top disease experts has described the surge of coronavirus deaths in neighbouring Sweden as a “sad situation”.

Sweden has had more deaths from Covid-19 in the past fortnight than Norway recorded since the start of the outbreak.

Frode Forland of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said early action and an effective test-and-trace system had been crucial to keeping the number of fatalities low.

"It is a reflection of the high spread of infection in Sweden. I think it is a very high figure and it is a sad situation that Sweden has come to," he told the Swedish daily newspaper Aftonbladet.

“The countries that had the greatest spread of infection in the first wave have also had it this autumn. The countries that quickly stopped the virus have contracted less infection.”

The two Scandinavian nations adopted contrasting approaches to public health at the beginning of the pandemic, resulting in vastly differing outcomes.

Norway has recorded 354 Covid-related deaths since the start of the outbreak, whereas Sweden reported 360 Covid deaths in the past 10 days alone.

Norway already performs Covid-19 testing at airports and a 10-day quarantine for travellers from high-risk countries.

Dr Forland said he believed Sweden should replicate Norway’s approach by enforcing stricter measures at its border.

"I think you should travel less and make sure to avoid people entering with infection from other countries. I think that is important," he told Aftonbladet.

Sweden was criticised earlier this year after chief epidemiologist expert Anders Tegnell refused to impose a national lockdown and instead opted for a herd immunity strategy.

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But cases have soared rapidly in recent weeks.

To stem a severe second wave, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced on Thursday that high schools would switch to distance-learning for the rest of the year.

Sweden’s death rate per capita is several times that of its Nordic neighbours, but lower than many European countries that opted for national lockdowns.

Sweden registered 35 new Covid-19 related deaths on Thursday, taking the total across the country to 7,007.

Anders Tegnell also said fatalities would climb higher and that the death toll was not expected to reach its peak until mid-December.

“We know from other countries down in Europe that the death toll is one, to a few, weeks behind the others. So we will probably unfortunately continue to see increasing death rates,” he said.