Britain has the second highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe per capita over the last seven days after lockdown-free Sweden, data has revealed.
Between May 12 and May 19, in a rolling seven day average, Britain saw 5.75 deaths per million inhabitants. In Sweden the figure was 6.25 deaths per million.
The United Kingdom’s proximity to Sweden as compared with the United States (4.17), France (3.49), Italy (3.0), Spain (2.95) and Germany (0.81), is unsettling.
Britain’s deaths per capita are closer to Sweden’s than they are to many of the former ‘sick men of Europe’ (Spain and Italy) and of the world (the US).
This despite the UK adopting a far more stringent lockdown, whereas Sweden chose to keep its schools, bars, restaurants and shops open.
Between May 12 and May 19, in a rolling seven day average, Britain saw 5.75 deaths per million inhabitants. In Sweden the figure was 6.25 deaths per million. The United Kingdom’s proximity to Sweden as compared with the United States (4.17), France (3.49), Italy (3.0), Spain (2.95) and Germany (0.81), is unsettling.
Over the course of the pandemic Sweden still has fewer deaths per capita than the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Belgium and France, which have all opted for lockdowns, but much higher than Nordic neighbours Denmark, Norway and Finland.
Sweden’s strategy, mostly based on voluntary measures regarding social distancing and basic hygiene, has been criticised by some as a dangerous experiment with peoples lives but also been put forward as a future model by the WHO .
Sweden’s open strategy seems to have softened the blow on the economy, with growth shrinking much less than in Denmark and Norway in the first quarter.
Sweden’s public health authority on reported 45 more deaths from coronavirus, today bringing the total death toll in the country to 3,743.
According to the latest update, 422 more people tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 30,799.
Death toll figures in Sweden generally fall over the weekend, due to a lack of reporting, then increase again during the week as health authorities catch up.
Today’s figure was the lowest reported on a Tuesday for six weeks, suggesting the outbreak in the country is now in abeyance despite a relative lack of measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Basing its approach on a so-called ‘principle of responsibility’, Sweden has kept schools open (indeed compulsory) for children under the age of 16, along with cafes, bars, restaurants and businesses, and urged people to respect social distancing guidelines.
Statistics released on Monday showed that Sweden had its deadliest month in almost three decades in April, with a total of 10,458 deaths recorded in the country of 10.3 million people.
‘We have to go back to December 1993 to find more dead during a single month,’ Tomas Johansson, population statistician at Statistics Sweden, said in a statement.
In total, 97,008 deaths were recorded in Sweden during the whole of 1993, which in turn was the deadliest year since 1918, when the Spanish flu pandemic ravaged the country.
Johansson said there was no official breakdown explaining the high death toll in December 1993 but said there was a flu epidemic at the time.
State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden speaks during a news conference on a daily update on Covid-19 in Stockholm, Sweden, on May 18, 2020
Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter Sweden’s ambassador to the US previously called the country’s number of elderly deaths due to covid-19 a ‘big failure’.
As the number of deaths passed 3,000 in early May Olofsdotter said 90 per cent of those who died in Sweden were over 70, meaning that around 2,700 elderly people have died of the virus.
Sweden has banned visits to care homes in one of its few restrictions after deciding against a full-scale lockdown, but Sweden’s top virologist Anders Tegnell has previously admitted that more should have been done to protect the elderly.
Tegnell told the daily press conference on Monday: ‘The curves look to be slowly but surely pointing downwards, but there is still a lot of strain on all parts of the healthcare sector.’