Swedes’ support for anti-lockdown stance slips amid rising Covid deaths – Jaweb

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Swedes’ support for anti-lockdown stance slips amid rising Covid deaths

Support for Sweden’s government and public confidence in authorities’ ability to handle the coronavirus crisis are sliding as the country’s anti-lockdown approach continues to be tested by mounting numbers of deaths and new cases.

As the national health agency announced 6,485 new infections and 33 more deaths on Thursday, the prime minister, Stefan Löfven , said the country’s high schools would switch to distance learning from 7 December for the rest of the term.

“This is being done so as to have a slowing effect on the spread of the disease, Löfven said, adding that the measure was “not an extended break”. What the country does now “will determine how we can celebrate Christmas”, he said.

A six-monthly poll by Statistics Sweden this week showed support for Löfven’scentre-left Social Democrats had dropped nearly five points to 29.4% since May, amid signs Swedes are increasingly unconvinced by the country’s strategy.

A survey last week found confidence in authorities’ capacity to control the crisis had fallen sharply to 42% from 55% in October, while 44% of respondents said they felt not enough was being done to fight Covid-19, up from 31% the previous month. More than 80% of those surveyed said they were either “somewhat” or “very worried” that Sweden’s health service would not be able to cope with the challenge.

“It is quite clear that the increased rate of infection, combined with the measures the authorities have taken, have led to a sharp increase in concern,” Nicklas Källebring of the Ipsos polling agency told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

Sweden’s light-touch approach, which uniquely in Europe has eschewed any form of lockdown, focuses on asking rather than ordering people to voluntarily observe hygiene and distancing recommendations. Shops, bars and restaurants have stayed open and masks are not recommended outside hospitals.

The country has always denied its aim was to achieve rapid herd immunity, saying its strategy was to slow the virus enough for health services to cope, but the higher levels of immunity that authorities expected as a result have failed to materialise and Sweden’s second wave has been severe.

More than 7,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Sweden, giving the country of 10.2 million one of Europe’s highest per capita death rates. Sweden has recorded significantly more deaths in the past fortnight alone than neighbouring Norway and Finland – with populations roughly half the size – have since the beginning of the pandemic.

Swedes’ support for anti-lockdown stance slips amid rising Covid deaths Wire Services/ The Guardian.

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