Protests erupt in Sweden as Government attacked over coronavirus strategy – PICTURES

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Sweden has been both praised and vilified for its different approach to the coronavirus pandemic – which saw officials resist calls to introduce a nationwide lockdown. Instead, the country has adopted a strategy that relies on personal responsibility and wilful obedience, leaving much of the country to carry on life as usual. But as the death toll begins to rise, many Swedes have questioned the effectiveness of such a lax approach – resulting in a series of protests in the capital.

Sweden’s coronavirus death toll currently stands at 4,125 – having soared in recent weeks.

As a result, some worried citizens have started protesting against the country’s approach to tackling the virus.

People gathered in Stockholm’s Sergel’s Square, placing heartfelt messages, candles and flowers in opposition to the current strategy.

One message, placed on a wooden coffin, read: “In memory of everyone who Sweden couldn’t save with its strategy.”

Another sign said: “Stop threatening parents for wanting to protect their children from a deadly virus.”

Mirrey Gourie, who set up a memorial outside the country’s parliament after her father died of COVID-19, said: “Why didn’t they protect the citizens by closing the borders, by protecting the people against the epidemic?”

Sweden’s strategy has seen bars, restaurants, hairdressers and schools remain open to the public.

The government has also allowed gatherings of up to 50 people to go ahead.

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Officials are relying on people to monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus, stay home when ill, practice good hand washing, and avoid large crowds.

Anders Tegnell, the Swedish public health agency’s chief epidemiologist, previously said: “The citizen has the responsibility not to spread a disease.”

Last week Sweden overtook the UK, Italy and Belgium to have the highest coronavirus per capita death rate in the world, prompting many to question whether officials had pursued the correct approach.

According to figures collated by the Our World in Data website, Sweden had 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants per day on a rolling seven-day average between May 13 and May 20.

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This was the highest in the world, above the UK, Belgium and the US, which have 5.57, 4.28 and 4.11 respectively.

But the figures only showed Sweden’s death rate higher for one week, with other European countries coming out on top throughout the entire course of the pandemic.

On Tuesday this week, the UK had the highest death rate over the last seven days.

Mr Tegnell defended the news last week and said it was misleading to focus on the death toll of just one single week.

He told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper: “This is something we should look at when it’s all over.

“It is, of course, terrible that we have such a higher death toll at our elderly care homes, and there are lessons to be learned for those who work in these institutions.”

Criticism is also mounting on Sweden as nearby countries, such as Norway, Denmark and Finland, who introduced strict lockdowns have seen a much lower death rate.

Norway’s death toll stands at just 235 deaths, with Finland and Denmark recording 312 and 563 deaths respectively.

The Swedish government is so far defending its approach to the pandemic, arguing herd immunity will prevent a second wave of the virus from emerging.

But even this argument appears to be faltering, as a recent study suggested just 7.3 percent of the Swedish population had developed coronavirus antibodies by late April, suggesting herd immunity may be very slow to develop.

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