Sweden has come under fire over the Government’s reaction to the coronavirus crisis as the country was one of few across the continent not to implement a lockdown. Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell conceded two months into the outbreak the decision to leave schools and business open had been misguided. But despite the admission, some residents have claimed the loss of confidence in the Government they have suffered will result in them leaving Sweden.
Eva Panarese, an Italian-born Swedish resident, told German broadcaster DW she had come to the decision to move to Denmark after being forced to send her children to school despite her husband being at risk of catching COVID-19.
Mrs Panarese said she had to rush her son and husband to hospital after a brief stay in Italy as they both fell ill: “I was pretty shocked by the way the hospital dealt with it, no masks, nothing.
“We may have brought corona to the hospital.”
Mrs Panarese’s son later tested positive to pneumonia and recovered but her husband remained ill.
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Sweden chose not to put the country in lockdown despite the coronavirus outbreak
Sweden still implemented social distancing rules
Despite making her case to her children’s schools, she claimed to have received threatening letters and calls from the institution demanding she sends the children back.
Sweden has made it illegal not to send healthy children to school and local media has reported there have been several occasions when parents have been threatened with fines and calls to social services.
Mrs Panarese continued: “They don’t care if you have an at-risk person at home. If your child is healthy, then they have to go to school.”
The intransigence of the Swedish school system had Mrs Panarese decide she will quit Sweden in favour of a neighbouring country.
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She added: “I will keep my job in Sweden and just move to Denmark — which is a 30-minute drive away — where they are sensitive to at-risk families.”
Some analysts have suggested the Swedish Government’s decision not to lockdown as many other countries in Europe did will result in foreign talent moving away as they did not feel protected.
Emanuelle Floquet, a project manager of Stockholm-based think tank Working for Change Matters, suggested the combination of loss of trust and heavy unemployment forecasts will convince many to quit the country.
Ms Floquet said: “The aftermath of the pandemic will see a haemorrhage of foreign talents. Many are also losing jobs and will be even more at the bottom of the list of priorities way behind Swedes.”
And European academics working in Sweden have lamented the ridicule they suffered from Swedish colleagues about their concerns for students and staffers.
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Sweden now has one of the worst death rate per capita in the world
Dr Nele Brusselaers, an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, criticised the decision not to shut down schools and universities despite warnings coming from neighbouring countries.
Dr Brusselaers said: “I am trolled and insulted because I worry about the safety of my students, friends, colleagues and their family.
“Every school all over the world worries about the safety of their teachers and pupils … except for Sweden. Every hospital or care facility worries about the health and safety of their healthcare workers, patients and residents, except for Sweden.
“Nobody takes responsibility, nobody takes the blame. Nobody seems to care.”
Despite early claims from the Swedish Government to have the pandemic under control, Stockholm this month picked up the ignominious title of the country with the highest COVID-19 death rate.
According to the latest data, the number of death per capita across Sweden is now four times higher than in other Scandinavian nations.