As the coronavirus spread around the world, many countries implemented stay at home orders aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
However, Sweden took the controversial step of not implementing lockdowns and instead trusted its citizens to social distance.
“I think there’s a perception out that Sweden has not put in control measures and just has allowed the disease to spread,” the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Dr. Mike Ryan said on Wednesday. “Nothing can be further from the truth,” he added.
Ryan said that Sweden “put in place a very strong public policy around social distancing, around caring and protecting people in long term care facilities.”
He continued, “What it has done differently is it has very much relied on its relationship with its citizenry and the ability and willingness of its citizens to implement self-distancing and self-regulate.”
“In that sense, they have implemented public policy through that partnership with the population,” he said.
Ryan also said that Sweden has enough testing capacity and hospital space to manage an outbreak of the coronavirus.
Finally, he said, “I think if we are to reach a new normal, Sweden represents a model if we wish to get back to a society in which we don’t have lockdowns.”
According to the latest reports, Sweden has more than 20,000 cases of the virus and almost 2,500 deaths, while neighboring Norway — which implemented lockdowns — has just shy of 7,700 cases and just over 200 coronavirus deaths.
Despite having a higher number of coronavirus cases than some nations that implemented lockdowns, officials in Sweden have maintained that their approach to the outbreak was effective.
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