Sweden should have done more to combat coronavirus: health chief

People sit in a restaurant in Stockholm on May 29, 2020, amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2020

Sweden should have done more to combat coronavirus: health chief

  • Nearly 4,500 Swedes have died in the outbreak
  • Sweden has relied more on voluntary measures, social distancing and common-sense hygiene advice to stem the outbreak

STOCKHOLM: Sweden should have done more to combat the coronavirus and prevent a much higher national COVID-19 death rate than in neighboring countries, the man behind the Public Health Agency’s pandemic strategy said on Wednesday.
Nearly 4,500 Swedes have died in the outbreak, a higher mortality rate than in Denmark, Norway and Finland, and criticism has been growing over the government’s decision not to impose lockdown measures as strictly as elsewhere in Europe.
Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, said that in hindsight Sweden should have done more.
“If we were to run into the same disease, knowing exactly what we know about it today, I think we would end up doing something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done,” Tegnell told Swedish radio.
“Yes, I think we could have done better in what we did in Sweden, clearly.”
While most of Europe, including Norway, Denmark and Finland, closed schools, shops and businesses, bringing much of society to a halt, Sweden has relied more on voluntary measures, social distancing and common-sense hygiene advice to stem the outbreak.
It shut care homes to visitors in late March, but around half of the deaths in the country have been among elderly people living in care facilities.
Tegnell said it was hard to know which measures taken elsewhere might have been the most effective in Sweden.
“Maybe we will find this out now that people have started removing measures, one at a time,” he said. “And then maybe we will get some kind of information on what, in addition to what we did, we could do without adopting a total lockdown.”
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said the government would launch an enquiry into the handling of the pandemic.


Four in Daniel Pearl case to remain jailed in Pakistan for now

Updated 02 July 2020

Four in Daniel Pearl case to remain jailed in Pakistan for now

  • A Karachi court sparked outrage when it acquitted British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men who had been convicted of Pearl’s murder
  • The men were kept in custody following their acquittals, under a law allowing authorities to detain high-profile militants for three months

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities renewed the detention orders Thursday for four men whose convictions in the kidnapping and killing of US journalist Daniel Pearl had been overturned, meaning they will remain jailed at least three more months, an official said.
A Karachi court sparked outrage in April when it acquitted British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men convicted in Pearl’s 2002 kidnapping and beheading.
The men were kept in custody following their acquittals, under a law allowing authorities to detain high-profile militants for three months.
“We have received orders from the (provincial) government for them to be detained for a further three months,” a prisons official in Karachi’s Sindh province told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Pakistan’s supreme court is expected to hear an appeal of the acquittal cases in September.
Pearl, 38, was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story on extremists.
A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate in the city nearly a month later.
Observers at the time said the killers were acting out of revenge for Pakistan’s support of the US-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.