Sweden reports no Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours

Fall in fatalities draws renewed attention to Stockholm’s relaxed virus response

 People walk in Drottninggatan during the coronavirus pandemic in central Stockholm, Sweden EPA
 People walk in Drottninggatan during the coronavirus pandemic in central Stockholm, Sweden EPA

Sweden has reported no Covid-19 deaths over a period of 24 hours, the first day the Scandinavian nation has been free of fatalities from the virus since March.

Swedish authorities have stressed the positive news may be the result of a delay in reporting. Typically, the country has seen a lull in deaths at the weekend for logistical reasons.

Nevertheless, the fall in deaths has once again raised questions over the relative success or failure of Sweden’s relatively relaxed response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite recording zero deaths on Sunday, last week Sweden had the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in Europe per capita over a seven day period, data showed.

There have been previous weekends where the death toll has increased by as little as two, only for a steeper rise to return in the following days when the reporting caught up, the health authority spokesman said.

In March, when other European countries imposed strict lockdown measures that restricted individual movement and closed non-essential businesses, Sweden took a markedly relaxed approach.

While the government banned gatherings of more than 50 people, bars, cafes and restaurants remained open. It was recommended that people abide by social distancing rules but those guidelines were not given legal force. Sweden also kept its borders open to neighbouring countries.

As Swedes were told to exercise common sense, images of Stockholm’s packed bars and parks were in contrast to the empty city centres of London, Paris and Berlin under lockdown.

The pandemic has killed 4,395 people in Sweden, more than four times the number in the nation’s Nordic neighbours, which moved quickly to impose lockdown.

The disparity between the countries has meant Sweden has been snubbed by Denmark and Norway under plans to reopen their borders.

Updated: June 1, 2020 08:34 PM

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