(Bloomberg) -- Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven used a rare Sunday night address to warn of the growing threat the coronavirus poses, amid fears the strategy used so far may not be enough to fight an increasingly deadly pandemic.
Lofven, the third prime minister in Sweden’s history to deliver such a national address, declared that “too many people have been careless about following the recommendations” that health authorities say are key if the virus is to be reined in.
Sweden famously avoided a lockdown, relying instead on voluntary measures. But with a death rate considerably higher than elsewhere in the Nordic region, and intensive care beds rapidly filling up, authorities in the country are now recalibrating their approach.
Lofven said in his Sunday speech that it’s clear “everyone must do more” to fight the virus. “The health and lives of people are still in danger, and the danger is increasing,” he said.
Covid-19 has already killed more than 6,000 Swedes, with total cases well above 200,000. At the same time, intensive care beds are filling up quickly, with twice as many Covid patients as of Nov. 19 compared with the preceding fortnight.
Earlier this month, the prime minister took what he called the “unprecedented” step of banning public gatherings of more than eight people. From Nov. 20, sales of alcohol were no longer permitted after 10 p.m. Both measures were a sign that voluntary measures are no longer enough.
The message from the prime minister was similarly unequivocal on Sunday night: the respite from Covid-19 during the summer and the fall is over.
”Everything that you would like to do but that isn’t necessary, call it off, cancel, postpone,” he said.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.