There is concern in Denmark about Sweden’s lackadaisical attitude towards the ChiCom virus. I hate to admit it, but I’m with Sweden on this one — I think the draconian response to the coronavirus is a hysterical overreaction that causes more harm than it alleviates.
A commonsensical, measured response — locking down the elderly and those at risk, quarantining those who are infected, and a vigorous public information campaign about hand-washing and “social distance” — would have been prudent and far less damaging than the total destruction of national economies.
Many thanks to LN for translating this article from Samhällsnytt:
Sweden is a deterrent example in fighting the coronavirus
In recent years, there has been much talk about the “Sweden image” — how the view of Sweden around the world in recent decades has gone from inspirational to exemplary to dissuasive examples. Previously, the criticism was mainly about such things as an exceptional immigration and gender policy, but now there is a new area — Sweden’s odd way of fighting the coronavirus epidemic.
In Denmark there is great concern among the elderly, especially those at risk, about being exposed to commuting personnel from Sweden in eldercare. For those who perceive the nonchalant Swedish way of dealing with the coronavirus crisis, confidence is low.
Hundreds of people living in Sweden work in eldercare on the opposite side of the Sound. Older Danes do not feel that the government and authorities in Sweden take the coronavirus epidemic as seriously as is the case in Denmark. The concern about being infected by Swedish guest workers is therefore great.
“They are worried about the Swedish health care staff,” confirms Bjarne Hastrup, who is the chairman of the public health organization Ældre Sagen.
Formally, the same guidelines apply to avoid infection for guest workers from Sweden as for domestic Danish staff, even when they are in Sweden. However, many people do not trust this considering the fact that its Swedish Public Health Agency, with its heavily criticized Anders Tegnell, has at the forefront reduced the safeguards and that the restrictions in Sweden are considerably weaker than in Denmark and most other countries.
Want guest workers from Sweden to be tested for coronavirus
Ældre Sagen, which at the request of many troubled elderly people in care, has now raised with the Danish government the demand that guest workers, in light of the inadequate restrictions in Sweden, be tested for the coronavirus.
“The least we can request is that all Swedish healthcare personnel who work in Helsingör, but live in Sweden, be tested for the coronavirus. We have many customers in nursing homes who are very concerned. They are old, are in the risk group and their safety must be assured,” Hastrup says in a comment to SVT [Swedish state TV].
One of the things that concerns many Danes is the lack of requirements for so-called social distance in Sweden. Public gatherings of 500 persons are still allowed here, while a maximum of ten persons may gather in Denmark. This means that there are major differences in the risk of transmission. In several other comparable countries, such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland, only two people are allowed to meet at a time.
Furthermore, almost all restaurants in Denmark are closed, while many in Sweden are still allowed to stay open. It is not only among the elderly in Denmark that the negative image of Sweden linked to the coronavirus has been established.
Even politicians are now expressing fears and understanding of the concern that Sweden’s more laid-back attitude in the fight against infection should affect the Danish people.
“It is quite understandable that there is a concern, considering the wide differences between Denmark and Sweden,” explains, for example, Mayor Johannes Hecht-Nielsen (Venstre party), who is also chairman of the Care Board in Helsingör.
Commuting Swedes are themselves critical
The fact that it is not just about unfounded Danish rumors spread about Swedes is confirmed by the fact that the fears are also shared by Swedes working in the Danish eldercare. Here it is not felt that responsible authorities in Sweden are taking the coronavirus situation seriously enough.
One of them is Anette Holm. She says that her Danish colleagues are worried about her commuting, and expresses criticism that she has not received any information from the Swedish authorities about whether she can continue to follow the more generous Swedish rules or adapt her life to the tougher Danish regimen.
“Some colleagues are a little worried that I commute from Sweden. But I have not received any directives on how to relate to the Danish guidelines at home in Sweden. I am one of those who think that Sweden does not take the situation seriously enough,” says Anette Holm.
Mixed messages from Swedish authorities
Many also marvel at the way different representatives of Swedish authority responsible for combating the coronavirus epidemic give completely different information about how serious the situation is.
Stockholm’s Director of Health, Björn Eriksson, explained in a fateful speech at a press conference on Wednesday that “the storm is upon us” — this after 18 people died of the coronavirus in the capital in a single day. At about the same time, the Public Health Agency’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, stated that “the situation is stable” and said that there is no reason for increased concern.
Sweden “a black hole for the coronavirus”
In China, where the coronavirus epidemic started and the virus is believed to have originated, harsh methods against spreading the infection have led to the transition from being the most severely affected country in the world to several days in a row without having a single new confirmed coronavirus case.
The “Swedish model” based mainly on citizens’ voluntary behavior does not get much traction in China. Sweden is described here as “a black hole for the coronavirus”.
The unwillingness in Sweden to close schools to stop the spread of the deadly virus among children is also something that is being questioned abroad.
In countries such as Greece, France, Italy and Spain, there is a curfew for all activities except the essentials such as shopping for food, going to the pharmacy and visiting health care providers. Breaking the prohibitions may result in fines and, in some cases, imprisonment.
Swedish epidemiologists: “Dangerous to stay at home”
In Sweden people have contented themselves with making recommendations. It is allowed to go to restaurants, gyms, cinemas and theaters as well as other performances with up to 500 people in the audience. At the same time, the authorities are calling on voluntary grounds for keeping a social distance of 1.5 to 2 meters from other people, which is often not possible in these contexts, and others ignore it.
In other respects, people in Sweden are content with recommending that those who are ill stay at home and others should wash their hands. In SVT’s “Agenda”, the current and former state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell and Johan Giesecke, respectively, expressed the view that it is more dangerous for public health to sit inside all the time and that citizens should go out in the spring sunshine on a picnic.