FRESH questions are being raised about Sweden's coronavirus 'open for business' strategy as it emerged that deaths have doubled in just three days.

The nation which is bucking the European trend in the pandemic by resisting any lockdown has been hit by nearly 5000 Covid-19 cases and 239 fatalities - with 59 in the past 24 hours - the highest daily death toll to date.

The rate of increase in deaths has more than doubled in 24 hours - having reported 24 more deaths on Tuesday.

Sweden has three times as many deaths as Scotland, with a population of 10m, half Scotland's 5m.

But the Swedish Public Health Agency say its death rate may be even worse, because there has been a large backlog in reporting fatalities.

READ MORE: Coronavirus - So how come Sweden with 180 deaths is open for business?

"Now we have an upturn. We should take it as a reminder of how important it is to stick to the basic things, not to go to work when you are sick, or visit elderly relatives, said Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell who is leading the government’s handling of the crisis.

"If you look at the last month in Sweden our curve is relatively flat, but there's a fairly sharp rise at the moment."

He 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 while the 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.”

Unlike the UK, bars and restaurants can continue with table service but cannot serve from counters and schools remain open.

What restrictions there are 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.

A ban on visits to elderly care homes will has only come into forced today (Weds).

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.

A survey by Netigate reveals as many 51% or the Swedish workforce are still working from their office.

Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister said: There might be a difference in Sweden, we might have some sort of genetic disposition to social distancing in our society anyhow. "

On Wednesday the Swedish government announced new advice to prevent the spread of infection including a request to shops, shopping centres and malls to limit the number of customers staying in the premises at the same time. They are being asked also to develop alternative solutions to checkout queues or indicate how far customers can stand between each other.

It also suggests the number of passengers using public transport should be limited.

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."


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