In Brief

Coronavirus: Swedish king says nation has ‘failed’ in pandemic response

Sweden has recorded almost 8,000 Covid deaths - a far greater tally those those of Scandinavian neighbours

Sweden’s king has added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism of the country’s Covid response, telling his people that “I think we have failed”.

Addressing the nation as part of an annual TV review of the year, King Carl XVI Gustaf said that the Swedish people had “suffered tremendously in difficult conditions”.

“One thinks of all the family members who have happened to be unable to say goodbye to their deceased family members,” he continued. “I think it is a tough and traumatic experience not to be able to say a warm goodbye.”

Asked during the televised review - to be broadcast on Monday - whether he feared catching the virus, the 74-year-old said: “Lately, it has felt more obvious, it has crept closer and closer. That’s not what you want.”

Sweden has refused to impose a full national lockdown at any point during the pandemic, as part of a “light-touch” experimental strategy that has been the “subject of intense international debate”, the Financial Times (FT) reports.

But hoped-for “herd immunity” has failed to materialise, with Sweden reporting almost 358,000 cases and more than 7,800 deaths, according to latest figures - “a lot more than its Scandinavian neighbours”, says the BBC.

Responding to his king’s comment, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has also admitted that “the fact that so many have died can't be considered as anything other than a failure”.

 But Lofven told reporters that “it’s when we are through the pandemic that the real conclusions can be drawn”.

Advocates of Sweden’s Covid strategy have noted that the nation has been able “to keep its schools and economy open”, says the FT. But “domestic support for Sweden’s strategy has fallen in recent months as the country has been hard hit by the second wave of Covid-19”.

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