Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said the country is “moving towards darker times” and that “all signs are now going in the wrong direction” as the number of COVID 19 cases in the country skyrockets.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Löfven said that although it was only a year since the first cases of the virus were identified, the time before the pandemic “seems to be completely far away”. His speech was translated into English from the Swedish news website thelocal.se.
“This is the darkest month of the year, and darkness has been with us for some time, and unfortunately it also seems that we are moving towards darker times when it comes to the spread of the infection in parts of the world, in Europe and here in Sweden,” he said. All signs are now going in the wrong direction”.
“The infection is spreading rapidly, and in the past week the number of people being treated in intensive care for Covid-19 has more than doubled. So far the health sector is coping with the pressure, but staff in this sector have been overburdened since the spring, and now they risk being on the front line for a long time to come.
In Sweden, there are over 162,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and just over 6,000 deaths. After a relatively low peak in cases between March and June, the numbers dropped significantly from July to the end of August.
Throughout the pandemic, the country has been closely monitored as it is one of the few countries not to implement a national lockdown. Instead of introducing national regulations that restrict social contact and the free movement of people, Swedish leaders chose to focus on personal responsibility and encourage people to work from home and maintain social distance.
Many suspected that this was an attempt to achieve herd immunity. In this process, a virus moves through a population to a point where such a large number of people are infected that it can no longer spread effectively. The government has denied that this was a goal.
Due to the declining number of cases during the summer months, many people saw Sweden’s lack of isolation as a success.
However, in September, as in many other European countries, cases began to rise, and officials now report thousands of new cases every day. Regional closures have been introduced in some parts of the country, and there are plans to ban the sale of alcohol after 10 pm to slow down the spread of the virus.
At the press conference, Löfven again urged personal responsibility, saying that while many people are “doing the right thing,” some are not.
“There are more people who have started to relax in the fall, there is no doubt about that, more people think that an evening outdoors doesn’t matter, maybe a day of shopping in the mall doesn’t mean anything, more people think ‘my birthday party won’t make a difference’ or ‘my meeting doesn’t matter much’, but unfortunately it does make a difference,” he said.
“Every decision we make in our daily lives makes a difference, it counts. Everyone’s behavior, everyone’s negligence, counts.