Sweden becomes an example of how not to handle COVID-19

Stores and restaurants have remained open throughout the pandemic, as have elementary and middle schools. Europe lifts strict coronavirus restrictions

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Stockholm residents who Palmer met on the streets said they were trying to social distance, when possible, but face coverings are still a rarity. But in a couple months, when the short northern summer ends, people will head back indoors, where the virus could easily explode again. “He was squeezing my hand when I was talking to him,” she told CBS News. One of them belonged to Helen Gluckman’s 80-year-old father, Jan. Staff stopped monitoring his oxygen and gave him morphine. While other nations quickly imposed lockdowns, Sweden allowed people to keep living largely as normal. Sweden becomes an example of how not to handle COVID-19

July 16, 2020 / 10:19 AM
/ CBS News

Sweden’s lax COVID policy hasn’t worked

Sweden’s lax COVID policy hasn’t worked

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Stockholm — Sweden is one of the richest countries in the world, and as nations started grappling with the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, the Swedes took a totally different approach to their neighbors. From a peak of more than 100 deaths per day, the country is now reporting daily death tolls in the low teens. First published on July 16, 2020 / 10:19 AM So they just gave him morphine, which kills a person after a while,” Gluckman said, adding that if she had known at the time that, “morphine will kill you, because it takes your breathing away, then I would never have accepted it.”

Asked by Palmer how health care professionals could act in such a seemingly irresponsible way — essentially not to treating a patient — Gluckman said authorities in Stockholm seemed to decide early on that they weren’t “going to treat this bunch of people.” She said without hesitation that she had “lost faith in the government,” and in Sweden’s public health authorities who have the direct responsibility for determining the country’s coronavirus strategy. Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer went to Stockholm and found that, despite the worrying statistics, most Swedes still seem fairly relaxed.Swedish health officials believed a few basic measures, including limiting gatherings to a maximum of 50 people, would control the spread of infections — along with Swedish common sense. Coronavirus: The Race To Respond

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But there’s no doubt that Sweden’s “lockdown lite” has cost lives. He died within days.  “They didn’t have any oxygen in the home, so there was nothing that they could do or were doing, so I think it was better [for them] not knowing how bad his condition was. COVID-19 cases climbing in 41 states

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The country’s mortality rate from the coronavirus is now 30% higher than that of the United States, when adjusted for population size. “I think he heard me.” When Jan tested positive for COVID-19, the care home where he lived didn’t send him to the hospital. That alarms Nele Brusselaers, an epidemiologist at the world renowned Karolinska Institutet medical research university in Stockholm. So, basically, no changes are imminent. The economy has still taken a serious hit, however, and now Sweden is being seen as a cautionary tale on the risks of allowing businesses to reopen too early. Swedish scientists have called for stricter, more data-driven measures to prevent a resurgence.National public health director Karin Tegmark Wisell told Palmer, however, that to avoid a potential second wave of infections in the autumn, Swedish officials would “keep up the recommendations” and continue to study evolving research. Visitors use sanitizer before entering the Vasa Museum in Stockholm on July 15, 2020 on the day of its reopening amid the new coronavirus pandemic. 

STINA STJERNKVIST/TT News Agency/AFP/Getty

With the onset of summer, Sweden’s outbreak has finally slowed down. Taking a ride on Stockholm’s subway, Palmer was the only one on the train wearing a mask. “If there is one country in Europe where there will be a second peak, it will be most likely Sweden, because they’re still not doing that much to really stop it,” she said.Last month, Sweden’s prime minister announced an inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, as polls began to show public confidence dropping.