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Sweden’s relaxed pandemic policy ‘vindicated’ as cases hit new low

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Sweden’s controversial non-lockdown COVID-19 policy appears to be paying off as positive cases hit a new low.

Sweden's controversial non-lockdown COVID-19 policy appears to be paying off as positive cases hit a new low.

While infection rates in other European cases are surging, Sweden recorded a rolling seven-day average of 108 yesterday - its lowest since March.

Sweden has reported 5843 pandemic deaths - one of the world's highest due to a big spike at the start of the pandemic.

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But figures from the Swedish national health agency showed only 1.2 per cent of its 120,000 tests last week came back positive.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control statistics also show Swedish infections are much lower than most of its neighbours.

The 14-day cumulative total of new cases is 22.2 per 100,000 inhabitants, against 279 in Spain, 158.5 in France and 59 in Britain, which all imposed lockdowns in the northern spring.

Sweden also has fewer new daily COVID-19 cases than its Scandinavian neighbours Norway and Denmark.

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Despite the encouraging data, it is unclear whether the country is heading towards herd immunity.

To establish that, 70 per cent to 90 per cent of Sweden's 10 million population would have to develop antibodies.

One Swedish health official said the current low number of cases was a "vindication" of a relaxed COVID-19 strategy, reports the UK's Times newspaper.

But a study by the UK's Royal Society of Medicine found that up to May only about 15 per cent of Sweden had become infected and it doubted herd immunity would be achieved.

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Unlike most countries, Sweden did not go into a lockdown when the pandemic spread across Europe in from March. Instead, there was an emphasis on personal responsibility, with most bars, schools, restaurants and salons remaining open.

The approach by the Swedish Government brought international criticism it was too lax as the death toll spiralled earlier this year.

Sweden recorded its highest death tally in 150 years for the first half of 2020, according to the country's official statistics office.

Between January and June this year, 51,405 deaths were registered - more than 6500 fatalities (or 15 per cent) over the same period in 2019.

Much of the criticism around Sweden's response has focused on the high death rates in care homes.

Sweden's chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell admitted in June that the country's Public Health Agency "didn't know that there would be such a big potential for the disease to spread in elderly care homes, with so many deaths."

Coronavirus is spiking particularly among young people in the UK.

The government said on Tuesday it was lifting its ban on visits to care homes for the first time in months from October.

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Source: 9News

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