- The Facts:Sweden has not enforced a mandatory quarantine or police enforced lock-down, they are still experiencing deaths as well as infections, but have not enforced policies in place.
- Reflect On:Just because many governments have taken an extreme approach to “flattening the curve” does not mean that this is the best approach. Sweden trusts it’s citizens to make appropriate decisions for themselves and their families, why don’t ours?
While the majority of rest of the world is under a state of quarantine and some places with a police enforced lockdown, the country of Sweden takes an entirely different approach. The Western approach has triggered mass panic, fear and confusion about what is going on and when and if they will ever get to go back to how things were. The Swedish government, on the other hand has a close bond with their citizens and they have developed a sense of trust over the years by treating the adults, as adults who are capable of making informed decisions and taking appropriate measures to keep themselves and their families safe.
Unlike most of their European neighbours, Sweden has not closed non-essential businesses, borders or schools. They also have not banned gatherings containing two or more people. Sweden’s response to the global pandemic is being overseen mostly by the country’s Public Health Agency, which by the way, is a separate entity from their government. Sweden puts the power in the hands of the people, trusting that they will voluntarily adopt the recommended measures to delay the spread of the virus. They are still encouraging those who are vulnerable to stay at home and practice social distancing, and those who are ill to do the same, but they are not using force, hysteria, fear and panic to do so.
But in view of the evident worsening of the situation, Lena Hallengren, Minister of Social Affairs and Health and Johan Carlson, Director General of the National Institute of Public Health, presented new guidelines and regulations to try to limit the damage caused by the Covid-19 virus.
The most important of these guidelines concerns the number of customers in shops and stores, public transport and the activities of the country’s sports clubs.
Johan Carlson said, “Everyone should avoid participating in large social events, such as baptisms, weddings and big parties.” (source)
Of course, considering the state of the rest of the world, Sweden has attracted a lot of criticism from within the country and outside of it. The leading epidemiologist for the Public Health Agency, Anders Tegnell told CNBC in an interview that although his country was attempting a different strategy to defeat the spread of the virus, their aim was the same, “My view is that basically all European countries are trying to do the same thing — we’re trying to slow down the spread as much as possible to keep healthcare and society working … and we have shown some different methods to slow down the spread. Sweden has gone mostly for voluntary measures because that’s how we’re used to working, and we have a long tradition that it works rather well.”
Is Sweden In Danger?
It is interesting to note that as of today (April 3rd) there have been only 6,131 cases of Covid19 reported in Sweden, this ranks Sweden as 19th on the worldmeters.info list. So, in comparison to 18 other countries Sweden is actually doing alright with the measures they have put in to place.
Only time will tell if the measures taken by Sweden were appropriate or not. If they are able to manage the problem and still effectively “flatten the curve” it may be upsetting to the all the countries that are currently being asked to stay inside at all costs. A positive aspect to Sweden’s approach is that they are not using fear tactics as a means to control their citizens, less fear/stress means stronger immune systems.
Imagine if your government trusted you as a citizen enough to make the best decisions for you and your family based off recommendations instead of enforcing measures to control its citizens. I mean, can we get a little credit here to make appropriate decisions on our own during times like these? Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, a specialist in microbiology and one of the most cited research scientists in German history shared his thoughts on the measures that are being taken to combat the new coronavirus, he referred to them as “draconian.” You can see his statement and read more about that here.
Only time will tell what the best response to this year’s outbreak turns out to be, but for the moment Sweden’s more laissez-faire approach should be heartening to its population. The government entrusting its citizens to observe advice and adjust their behaviours accordingly without the threat of police intervention is something that should be applauded in a free society. It also maintains a higher level of trust going in the other direction, from the public to the government. On a practical level, not employing draconian measures immediately prevents hysteria from taking hold amongst the public and allows for a slower escalation of measures should they be needed.
Trust is an important factor in a democracy where a government rules by consent of the people. Public trust in Sweden is exceptionally high, with citizens having faith that their politicians are acting in the public interest. Their propensity to treat adults like adults is key to that trust remaining.”
Just because many governments worldwide have enforced these strict measures doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the only option we have and they are the only way to effectively stop the spread. There are a lot of points worth pondering when it comes to the approach taken by most of the western world and it’s important to always keep asking questions. Absolutely stay home if you’re sick or have a compromised immune system, but for those who aren’t don’t forget to get out in the sunshine, get some fresh air, go for walks in nature and try to mitigate some of the fear and stress you may be feeling.
We are all in this together.