Early responses to the COVID-19 pandemic varied dramatically from one country to the next. It now appears that many failed to act with appropriate urgency, thereby hastening the spread of the disease. Sweden, in particular, has attracted its fair share of criticism due to its government’s initial refusal to ban residents from gathering in public.
The Early Response in Sweden
As several European countries initiated stringent social distancing and stay-at-home measures, Sweden lagged behind. Swedish elementary schools remained open long after institutions in neighboring nations had been shut down. Likewise, patrons were allowed to continue visiting bars and restaurants.
Instead of imposing the mandates maintained throughout the rest of Europe, Sweden opted for a voluntary approach. Unfortunately, compliance is clearly an issue. While many residents work from home and avoid going out in public, others continue to abide by their usual routines.
Sweden’s Pandemic By the Numbers
If the latest statistics are any indication, Sweden’s voluntary approach isn’t working. As of April 19th, the nation’s death toll topped 1,500 — greatly exceeding the numbers in neighboring nations such as Denmark, Norway, and Finland. While official statistics pointed to nearly 15,000 cases on April 19th, actual figures are likely far higher.
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