United Kingdom

Coronavirus: No-lockdown Sweden will close high schools for a month

Sweden will close its high schools for a month from next Monday and students will take online classes after 209 deaths were recorded in the last two days. 

The Scandinavian country, which has resisted taking coercive action to suppress coronavirus, is seeing infections rise and exceeding official forecasts.

Its Public Health Agency now predicts a peak in its second wave will be reached in mid-December as the total death passed 7,000 on Thursday.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told a press conference last night that the upper school closures would help to slow the spread of the virus. 

He said: 'You are going to need to change the way you are getting educated. I fully understand that this isn't easy, but in the current situation, it is necessary.'

Sweden will close its high schools for a month from next Monday and students will take online classes after 209 deaths were recorded in the last two days (file photo)

PM Stefan Lofven told a press conference that the upper school closures would help to slow the spread of the virus. He said: 'You are going to need to change the way you are getting educated. I fully understand that this isn't easy, but in the current situation, it is necessary'

Mr Lofven also discouraged students from mixing with those outside their households, adding: 'I trust that you are wise and understand that this is not an extended Christmas break.It's not a go-ahead for parties with friends.'    

After a lull during summer, Sweden has recently been recording its highest level of deaths – with an average of up to 60 fatalities per day this week.   

However, that is still below record levels in mid-April, when an average of around 100 deaths was registered per day, according to official data compiled by AFP. 

Sweden's no-lockdown approach to Covid-19 spared its economy from the ruin inflicted by governments which took draconian steps to suppress the virus. 

Unlike other countries including the UK, the Swedish government has not imposed mask mandates – restricting the requirements to healthcare personnel. 

But critics accuse Dr Anders Tegnell, the architect of the country's liberal approach to the outbreak, of failing to protect the old and vulnerable living in care homes.

The Scandinavian country, which has resisted taking coercive action to suppress coronavirus, is seeing infections rise and exceeding official forecasts (file photo)

Sweden's no-lockdown approach to Covid-19 spared its economy from the ruin inflicted by governments which took draconian steps to suppress the virus But critics accuse Dr Anders Tegnell of failing to protect the old and vulnerable living in care homes 

They also claim that Sweden has been much worse hit than its Nordic neighbours, with more than 7,000 Covid-19 deaths recorded so far. 

However, the country has tightened restrictions since November, banning the sale of alcohol after 10pm and public gatherings of more than eight people.

Following the apparent sidelining of Dr Tegnell by the Swedish PM at the weekend, it is possible that the 'doves' in government are winning the case for lockdown.  

Stockholm's Södertorn University's associate politics professor, Nicholas Aylott, told the Telegraph  'There's certainly a split, and I'm pretty sure that many in the government have rather lost faith in the Public Health Agency.'  

A Covid-19 test is handed out of a car at a car park at a railway station in Malmo, Sweden, as people suffering symptoms do a test by themselves in their vehicle

The agency said the current pace of new cases was lower than that predicted by its model, but that this might reflect an inability of testing, which has been overwhelmed in some regions, to keep up with the spreading virus.

The government has given the agency the task of modelling how the pandemic will develop to help authorities and healthcare services with their planning. 

The agency has faced criticism in Swedish media that its previous modelling attempts have been inaccurate, for instance in predicting during that the country would not face a broad second wave of infections during autumn.

The current scenario is based on infections reported between August 24 and November 6 and other variables. 

Last month, Dr Tegnell was forced to admit that Sweden is fighting a second wave of the virus after previously downplaying the risk. 

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