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While health officials throughout Europe brace for a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections, Sweden — which never fully locked down over COVID-19 in the first place — is experiencing dramatic declines in new cases.
According to a World Health Organization report, the number of new COVID cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks since July 29 fell by about 54 percent from the number of new cases during the previous 14-day period, Newsweek noted.
Meanwhile, the number of cases throughout Europe — in countries that enacted extensive lockdown measures — are rising nearly as dramatically. Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands have all seen coronavirus caseloads spike between 40 and 200 percent, the latest WHO report noted.
“The seven-day rolling average of Sweden’s daily new cases has been dropping consistently since June 29. Its daily case count has been mostly decreasing since June 24, when it reported 1,803 new infections, its largest single-day spike since the outbreak began, according to data compiled by Worldometer,” Newsweek reported.
Additionally, the seven-day average of new daily deaths from coronavirus in Sweden has also been falling — since about April 15, when the daily count was 115.
The most recent seven-day rolling averages of cases and deaths is 154 and 2, respectively.
Sweden does, however, rank eighth among countries in terms of coronavirus deaths per 100,000 people, higher than the U.S. and Brazil, the world’s hardest and second-hardest hit nations, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
In comments last week, Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at Sweden’s public health agency, rated his country’s coronavirus response sans a lockdown successful “to a great extent.”
“We have cut down on movement in society quite a lot,” he continued, noting that a national lockdown was never ordered, he told Swedish outlet UnHerd.
“We have compared how much we travel in Scandinavian countries, and the decrease in travel is the same in Sweden as in neighboring countries. In many ways the voluntary measures we put in place in Sweden have been just as effective as complete lockdowns in other countries.
“We are now seeing rapidly falling cases, we have continuously had healthcare that has been working, there have been free beds at any given time, never any crowding in the hospitals,” he added.
“The failure [of the strategy] has of course been the death toll…that has been very much related to the long-term care facilities in Sweden. Now that has improved, we see a lot less cases in those facilities.
Asked if a lockdown would have reduced cases and deaths, Tegnell said, “It would have made maybe some difference, we don’t know…we also have to look at what are the negative effect of lockdowns, and that has not been done very much so far.”
Photographs of Swedish citizens not social distancing or wearing masks as the country experiences its moderate summer abound, but then the country’s leaders and health officials were never that concerned about the virus.
“My respect for those who died, but we are doing something right here in Sweden,” Swedish citizen Johan Mattsson, 44, told The New York Times in April.
“I’m not seeing very different statistics in many other countries. I’m happy we didn’t go into lockdown. Life has to go on.”
“We’re clearly past the peak in Stockholm and our health care (system) has been able to handle it, we have extra beds in the hospitals and everybody has been treated that needs to be treated, even non-COVID patients have been able to get treatment,” Tegnell said in May.
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