IT is the nation that has been hit by 4434 Covid-19 cases and 180 deaths - with 24 in 24 hours.

And yet unlike its neighbours, like Norway where there are over 30 deaths, Sweden has remained largely open for business.

Bars, shops and restaurants continue to welcome customers.

The Øresund Bridge linking Malmö and Copenhagen remains open on the Swedish side while Denmark is on a coronavirus lockdown.

Right now there are 39.6 reported cases per 100,000 of the Swedish population - which is higher to the UK's case rate of 33.8 per 100,000 people.

Unlike the UK, in Sweden the restrictions state there should be no gatherings of more than 50 people from Sunday, down from 500 on Friday, avoid social contact if over 70 or sick and a suggestion to try to work from home.

Bars and restaurants can continue with table service but cannot serve from counters and schools remain open.

The gatherings ban only applied to public events such as concerts, shows, demonstrations and lectures. It doesn't apply to private parties, schools, gyms, libraries, restaurants or groups on public transport or even shopping malls.

A ban on visits to elderly care homes will come only into force on Wednesday.

Although two metres apart from other people is the British strategy to limit the spread of the virus, there is currently no official recommendation to do this in Sweden.

Concerns had been raised over domestic tourists travelling to ski resorts and spreading the virus, prompting many ski resorts to halt après-ski events.

After meeting regional health authorities in Jämtland, which is home to the popular ski town Åre, the Public Health Agency decided last week not to close slopes.

Last week 2000 Swedish academics wrote a letter criticised the laid back approach.

Karolinska Institutet molecular and systems biology professor Sten Linnarsson said: "There is growing concern in the scientific community about the assessments and the course the Swedish government has taken in this epidemic, especially because there is a lack of scientific evidence being put forward for these policies."

"Us adults need to be exactly that: adults. Not spread panic or rumours. No one is alone in this crisis, but each person carries a heavy responsibility," said Prime Minister Stefan Löfven during a recent televised speech.


As the death toll rose, he urged Swedes to cancel their trips over Easter and to not let children knock on the door of their neighbour to ask for sweets.

"The virus is hitting Sweden hard, the process can change quickly. The next few weeks will be crucial," he admitted in his latest press conference.

"What is most important for how many people get sick is the effort that everyone is doing today."

He has commissioned the Swedish Public Health Agency to urgently develop a national strategy to test more Swedes for the coronavirus - targetting socially important professons. They want to reach up to 30,000 test a week.

While he has been criticised, he is drawing his support from data from the health authorities.

In an article on The Conversation, two professors from the University of Lund explained that results from data simulations have been used: “From these simulations, it is clear that the Swedish government anticipates far fewer hospitalisations per 100,000 of the population than predicted in other countries, including Norway, Denmark and the U.K.”

But, when running the data through the British models, the number of deaths predicted for Sweden is much higher. “The reason appears to be that Swedish authorities believe there are many infected people without symptoms and that, of those who come to clinical attention, only one in five will require hospitalisation,” said the professors.

Is it herd immunity in disguise?

Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, who is leading the government’s handling of the crisis, supports a strategy of mitigation: allowing the virus to spread slowly without overwhelming the health system, and without recourse to draconian restrictions.

He has previously argued that even country's permissive policies are an anomaly, they are more sustainable and effective in protecting the public's health than "drastic" moves like closing schools for four or five months.

“The goal is to slow down the amount of new people getting infected so that health care gets a reasonable chance to take care of them. And that’s what we all do in every country in Europe,” Mr Tegnell said.

“We just choose different methods to do it.”

Meanwhile Johan Styrud, president of the Swedish Medical Association in Stockholm, has been critical over a lack of protective equipment.

"All employees in the care should be able to feel confident that they have adequate protection against the infection. That is not the case today, he said.