Sweden says WHO made ‘total mistake’ by including it in warning

Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has rejected a warning from the World Health Organization that included Sweden among countries in Europe at risk of a Covid-19 resurgence.

The WHO on Thursday said several countries and territories were seeing a rise in infections. Eleven were in the UN agency’s Europe region.

Dr Tegnell told Swedish TV it was a “total misinterpretation of the data”.

Sweden had seen a rise in cases, he argued, because it was testing more.

But the WHO said the proportion of those testing positive for coronavirus remained “at about 12-13%” despite increased testing.

This and other data indicates “that Sweden is still faced with community transmission”, a spokesperson told the BBC.

According to WHO data, EU member state Sweden has seen 155 infections for every 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14 days, far higher than anywhere else in the organisation’s defined Europe region, other than Armenia.

Regional Director Hans Henri Kluge said in a press conference on Thursday that in 11 countries, which included Sweden, “accelerated transmission has led to very significant resurgence that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again”.

The other countries and territories were: Moldova, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine, Kosovo, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Sweden’s response to the pandemic has been very different to other European countries. There has been no lockdown, with schools and cafes staying open, but large gatherings have been banned and most Swedes observe social distancing.

It has seen 5,230 deaths in a population of 10 million – a far higher mortality rate than its neighbours. This week Sweden reported its highest number of daily infections since the outbreak began, with 1,610 on Wednesday.


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