With half the world placed under strict lockdown to block the spread of the deadly coronavirus, Sweden is taking a different approach in tackling the pandemic. According to reports, Sweden is keeping its schools, bars and restaurants open and is encouraging people to go out for a nip of air. However, Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in a televised speech on March 22 urged people to take responsibility and work from home if they can.
In the speech, Lofven also requested citizens to follow government recommendations and practice social distancing to avoid contraction. The government has also asked people to stay at home, especially if they belong to the risk group or are over 70 years old. Sweden has banned public gatherings for more than 500 people, which again is being termed as a soft approach because the United Kingdom and Germany have banned groupings of more than two people.
Media reports suggest that bars and restaurants were full despite the government's recommendation and public transport was jam-packed in rush hours. Sweden's parliament has so far simply fast-tracked a bill that would allow the closing down of primary and pre-schools. Sweden has shut all international borders keeping in line with the European Union. But besides all of this, no strict measures have been taken by the Swedish government to limit the number of people on the streets. Sweden has so far recorded 2,299 coronavirus cases of which 40 people have lost their lives while 143 patients remain under critical condition.
The COVID-19 has claimed more than 18,900 lives across the world and has infected nearly 4,22,000 people globally since it first broke out in December 2019. China was the most affected country until last week, however, Italy surpassed it to record the most number of deaths anywhere in the world due to COVID-19. The virus is believed to have originated from a seafood market in China's Wuhan city, the epicentre of the disease, where animals were reportedly being traded illegally.
Spain, and Iran are the most affected countries after Italy and China, where, as of March 24 the combined death toll stands at 4,925. France has now also joined the list of countries that have recorded more than 1,000 deaths. Health experts believe that the hotspot could soon shift to the United States, where 782 people have died so far, out of the 52,881 confirmed cases that the country has recorded since January 2020.
(Image Credit: AP)