Sweden's king says the country 'failed' in its coronavirus response as public lose trust in the architect of its no-lockdown policy

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty ImagesKing Carl Gustaf of Sweden.
  • Sweden’s king says the country has ‘failed’ in its anti-lockdown coronavirus response because it failed to protect the elderly from dying during the pandemic.
  • ‘I think we have failed. We have a large number who have died, and that is terrible,’ King Carl XVI Gustaf told state broadcaster SVT.
  • Sweden has recorded significantly more coronavirus deaths than neighbouring countries
  • It was unique in its approach to the coronavirus pandemic, relying on public health messaging rather than implementing lockdown measures seen in other European countries.
  • The king’s comments came as Sweden on Wednesday published the results of an investigation into the country’s treatment of people in elderly care during the pandemic.
  • Over 7,800 people have died from Covid-19 in Sweden, according to official figures.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sweden’s king says the country has “failed” in its anti-lockdown coronavirus response because it failed to protect the elderly from dying during the pandemic.

“The people of Sweden have suffered tremendously in difficult conditions,” King Carl XVI Gustaf told state broadcaster SVT, in a public statement that was cited by The Guardian newspaper.

“I think we have failed. We have a large number who have died, and that is terrible.”

Sweden was unique in its approach to the coronavirus pandemic, relying on public health messaging rather than implementing lockdown measures introduced in other European countries, an approach which has coincided with a death rate many times greater than that of neighbouring countries.

The government’s strategy has come under fresh scrutiny as the country grapples with an alarming second wave of infections which threatens to overwhelm healthcare systems in the Stockholm region.

An Ipsos poll for the Dagens Nyheter newspaper on Thursday showed that public support fell for Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden’s no-lockdown strategy, from 72% to 59%, and trust in the Public Health Agency fell from 68% to 52%.

The king’s comments came as Sweden on Wednesday published the results of an investigation into the country’s treatment of people in elderly care during the pandemic.

An independent commission found that the country found to protect care home residents from the coronavirus and principally blamed the government for the failings, according to an English-language version of the report.

“Apart from the general spread of the virus in society, the factor that has had the greatest impact on the number of cases of illness and deaths from COVID-19 in Swedish residential care is structural shortcomings that have been well-known for a long time,” the report said.

“These shortcomings have led to residential care being unprepared and ill-equipped to handle a pandemic. Staff employed in the elderly care sector were largely left by themselves to tackle the crisis,” it said.

Sweden’s coronavirus death toll stands at over 7,800 people, compared to around 500 in Finland and around 400 in Norway, both of which have a population of around 5 million, roughly half that of Sweden.

According to the commission’s report, almost 90% of of those who died in Sweden were over 70, and half of those lived in care homes.

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