Sweden itself has one of the highest deaths per capita related to the virus on the continent. Unlike Italy, Spain, France and the UK, Sweden has not imposed a ban.
Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell spoke to Sveriges Radio, a public broadcaster, over the weekend and defended his approach. Italy needs “fewer resources” to fight the virus.
The comments hit a nerve in Italy, where more than 33,000 people died from Covid-1
“Everyone outside of Italy should only express praise and solidarity to our country and our people,” wrote the Italian ambassador to Sweden, Mario Cospito, in a reply on Wednesday, referring to the high life expectancy of Italy and its importance in the international comparison of health systems.
Cospito added that Sweden and other countries had more time to prepare for the arrival of the pandemic as Italy was the second major hotbed of the outbreak after China.
Sweden’s handling of the outbreak was controversial. Critics have argued that the country willingly accepted one of the world’s highest deaths per capita, with nursing homes particularly hard hit.
Swedish health authorities have recognized the toll of the virus. “Our biggest failure has been for our older population,” Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter, Sweden’s ambassador to the United States, said recently to the Washington Post. However, officials have also identified what they consider to be successes, including those who act responsibly without the government having to impose major restrictions.
Tegnell also referred to a “level of immunity in the population” in the capital, Stockholm, to defend the approach and suggested that the country be better prepared for a second wave of infections.
Later on Friday, the Nordic countries Denmark and Norway announced that they would relax travel restrictions between their respective countries, but would exclude Sweden because of the number of corona viruses.