Georgian media outlets (PrimeTime,Alia,Nostal.ge,Info9,Voice of Abkhazia), based on an Azerbaijani source, are reporting that “Sweden has refused to fight the coronavirus.” FactCheck took interest in the accuracy of this information.
On 31 January 2020, the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Sweden when a person who had returned from Wuhan testedpositivefor the virus. As of 19 March, the number of confirmed cases in Sweden exceeded 1,300 with ten deaths.
On 13 March, Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven,declaredthat the coronavirus is the biggest threat to Swedish public health in several decades. Although Swedish authorities have only formally advised against travel to Italy, Iran, China and other countries, the Prime Minister urged Swedes against non-essential travel. At his press conference, Stefan Löfven also told citizens that the situation can change fast and, therefore, authorities have already taken certain measures to fight the coronavirus.
In order to allow people with mild symptoms to stay at home and avoid problems at work, Sweden scrapped the requirement for a sick note. In this manner, people will not spread the virus and crucial healthcare resources can focus on treating the seriously ill. In addition, Sweden’s scholastic aptitude tests (over 70,000 persons were supposed to take thetests) were cancelled and mass gatherings (more than 500 people) werebanned.According to the decision of the Parliament of Sweden, attendance of only 55 MPs will be required for parliamentary work because of the coronavirus epidemic. This decision was made toensurethe continued work of the parliament if the majority of MPs are infected.
In addition, on 16 March Swedish authoritiesadvisedthe population to start telework. The government is preparing a USD 31 billion crisispackagefor business whilst authoritiescalled onschools and universities to continue studies online on 17 March. Although this is only formal advice, of note is that some schools have already decided tohaltthe educational process. As stated by the authorities, the decision about the mandatory stopping of educational institutions can be made simultaneously with the spread of the virus. In addition, Sweden’s borders have beenclosedsince 19 March for citizens of non-EU countries (this does not include Switzerland, the UK, Iceland and Norway).
The measures taken by Swedish authorities to fight the novel coronavirus are not the most stringent ones. However, making a claim that Sweden refused to fight the coronavirus is wrong. Therefore, FactCheck concludes that the aforementioned news story is false.
See FactCheck’s anotherarticleon how different countries are fighting the coronavirus.