Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden addresses a news conference updating on the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) situation, in Stockholm, Sweden, on October 29, 2020. ANDERS WIKLUND/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images
Sweden’s chief epidemiologist has admitted that the country is now experiencing a second wave of coronavirus despite predicting that the country’s no-lockdown policy would prevent another surge.
Tegnell had suggested that case numbers would be “quite low” in the autumn compared to other European countries which imposed lockdowns.
However, the latest figures show Sweden is experiencing higher levels of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths than its neighbours, relative to population size.
“We see community spread in many regions simultaneously right now,” Tegnell said, according to Reuters.
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Sweden’s chief epidemiologist has admitted that the country is experiencing a second surge in coronavirus cases despite previously predicting that the number of infections in the autumn would be “quite low” due to the country’s no-lockdown policy.
“In the autumn there will be a second wave. Sweden will have a high level of immunity and the number of cases will probably be quite low,” Anders Tegnell told the Financial Times back in May.
However, the latest figures show Sweden is experiencing higher levels of infections, hospitalizations and deaths than its neighbours, relative to its population size, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.
Sweden recorded 4,658 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to official figures reported by Reuters, with new daily cases having surged in recent weeks.
Hospitalizations have also increased dramatically, with over 1000 patients with COVID-19 being treated in hospitals, a 60% increase from last week. The figures were reported by state broadcaster STV and cited by the Guardian.
The death rate from coronavirus in Sweden is now one of the highest in the world when adjusted for population size.
Tegnell, who has become known for designing Sweden’s anti-lockdown policy, admitted this week that the country was seeing significant spread of the virus across the country.
“I don’t think the definition is that important, but we see community spread in many regions simultaneously right now,” Tegnall told a press conference, according to Reuters.
Sweden’s public health agency also acknowledged that the high number of cases seen in the country in the first wave had not protected it in the second.
“We also see that many other countries in Europe that had a big effect during the spring, that had lockdowns and now again have lockdowns also see a big increase now,” Sara Byfors from the Public Health Agency of Sweden told the Financial Times.
“So it seems to follow this pattern that if you had a lot of cases during the spring you also see a lot of cases now… We don’t know why this is.”
The Swedish government initially refused to adopt strict measures to tackle the coronavirus, relying only on voluntary guidance to try and curb the spread of infections.
However, the surge in infections has prompted the country to adopt harsher measures in recent weeks.
The country has moved to ban the sale of alcohol in pubs and bars after 10pm and Tegnell this week told Swedes that the government may be forced to introduce travel restrictions across the country “right before Christmas,” according to the BBC.
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