The Swedish experiment has drawn international bewilderment as schools, restaurants and cafes have remained open. And while other countries passed tough laws restricting movement, Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven relied on the common sense of his fellow citizens to carry his country through the pandemic.
But after a week of sobering data, Lofven now seems to be striking a darker tone. In an interview published on Saturday by Dagens Nyheter, he warned that Sweden may be facing “thousands” of coronavirus deaths, and said the crisis is likely to drag on for months rather than weeks. Meanwhile, newspaper Expressen reported that his Social Democrat-led government may be seeking extraordinary powers to bypass parliament and force through a tougher response to the virus.
The number of Swedish deaths rose to 373 on Saturday, up 12% from Friday. That brings the rate per million in Scandinavia’s biggest economy to 36, compared with 29 in Denmark and 9 in Norway, where much tougher lockdowns are in place.