Sweden's foreign minister has defended the nation's response to the COVID-19 global pandemic after a recent "week-by-week measurement of mortality" that shows the Scandinavian country as having one of the highest rates in the world.
The website Ourworldindata.org reported that for seven days between May 12 and 19, Sweden reported, on average, 6.25 COVID-19 deaths per million per day. That was the highest in Europe.
At a news conference in Stockholm Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ann Linde called those numbers "a concern" and "tragic," but she said Sweden did not quickly get high mortality rates as some other countries did, nor would it get quickly, radically, low numbers.
She said the nation's strategy is not based on a "week-by-week measurement of mortality. It is based on a long-term perspective on how we can save lives, protect our health care system, and make sure our society and the population will go as unharmed as possible."
Linde said it was a myth that life has gone on "as normal" in Sweden during the pandemic, saying while there has been no full lockdown, many parts of the nation's society have been shut down.
She said that transmission of COVID-19 is slowing down in Sweden, the treatment of patients in intensive care is decreasing significantly, and "the rising death toll curve has been flattened." She added, "This is not a sprint, it's a marathon." The coronavirus causes the COVID-19 disease.
Sweden's relatively "soft approach" to the pandemic banned large gatherings but restaurants and schools for younger children have stayed open. The government has urged social distancing, and Swedes have largely complied.
But the country also has more than 4,120 fatalities from COVID-19, almost 40 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with about 10 per 100,000 in neighboring Denmark and just more than four per 100,000 in Norway, which imposed stricter lockdowns early on.