Stockholm, 24 June 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Failure to protect the elderly in Swedish care homes from contracting coronavirus is a big regret, a top Swedish health official said on Wednesday.
“We probably thought that our age-segregated society would allow us to avoid a situation like in Italy, where different generations more often live together, but that turned out to be wrong,” said Anders Tegnell, epidemiologist with the Public Health Agency.
“The death rates we have seen in Sweden are terrible and should have been avoided,” he told Summer, a popular annual radio programme.
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Tegnell, 64, has been a lead spokesman for the Swedish virus strategy, which he described as “classic.”
Despite strains, the Swedish health system had been able to cope with the pandemic, he claimed.
Sweden has adopted less stringent measures to contain the virus than elsewhere.
People have been urged to refrain from travel, to maintain social distancing and to stay home if they are elderly or have minor symptoms. Public gatherings are limited to 50 people.
The Public Health Agency had by Wednesday recorded 5,209 coronavirus-related deaths and about 62,300 infections.
Tegnell expressed surprise over the attention he has received, ranging from hateful emails to surprising expressions of support. One fan even had an image of his face tattooed onto their arm.
“To be portrayed as a tattoo did not feel OK for someone who has worked to prevent infectious diseases for much of their life,” he said.