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.


Northeast Indian state bans sale of dog meat amid protest

Updated 2 min 19 sec ago

Northeast Indian state bans sale of dog meat amid protest

  • State government banned all commercial import and trading of dogs and also the sale of dog meat, both cooked and uncooked
GAUHATI, India: Authorities in India’s northeastern state of Nagaland have banned the sale of dog meat and halted the import and trading of dogs to be used for food, officials said Saturday.
The remote Christian-majority state’s Chief Secretary Temjen Toy said in a tweet that the state government banned all commercial import and trading of dogs and also the sale of dog meat, both cooked and uncooked. The move followed an appeal earlier in the week by Indian lawmaker Maneka Gandhi, who urged the Nagaland government to act.
Gandhi’s appeal came after she received fresh photographs of the trade from a Nagaland-based animal protection group. The appeal led to more than 125,000 people writing to the Nagaland government to urge the banning of the dog trade and the sale of dog meat.
“This is a major turning point in ending the cruelty in India’s hidden dog meat trade,” animal rights advocacy group Humane Society International said in a statement.
The group estimates that up to 30,000 dogs a year are smuggled into Nagaland, where they are sold in live markets. The group also says dogs are regularly beaten to death with wooden clubs.
Authorities praised the movement.
“This is a progressive move. In this day and age, positive social media activism and advocacy has an enormous impact on policymakers. Congrats and thanks to all,” Abu Metha, an adviser to Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, the state’s highest elected official, said in a tweet.
Apart from Nagaland, thousands of dogs each year are illegally captured for consumption from the streets or stolen from homes in other northeast Indian states, including Mizoram, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, rights groups say.