All this follows a handful of mostly optimistic reports from the Public Health Agency in Sweden indicating that the rate of new infections and deaths remains stable even as numbers continue to rise. The number of people in intensive care at any one time has stayed flat, and most of the field hospitals that were set up in March remain empty. Of particular interest are reports that around one quarter of Stockholm (some say even more) is believed to have already had the virus. Though that number has been debated, several experts appear increasingly confident that the number of asymptomatic cases is much higher than initially thought.
Now is an especially interesting time to keep an eye on what happens as many countries in Europe, including Sweden’s Nordic neighbors, begin to ease restrictions themselves. Swedish authorities seem to have accepted that infections and deaths would inevitably climb at a certain rate, so the numbers here look much worse than in neighboring countries. Having avoided wider infections up to now, will countries like Denmark and Norway soon see a surge in cases when they try to open up? Will Swedes, having been infected more widely at a reasonably controlled pace, now be better off than everyone else as we attempt to restart economic activity? Or could it be that things take a different turn, with Swedes suddenly seeing case numbers jump and a lockdown imposed, just as everyone else is beginning to emerge? All are questions with ramifications for the entire world. Everyone will no doubt be waiting and watching to see what happens.