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Sweden suffers deadliest month for nearly 30 years

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 19/05/2020 Richard Wood

a group of people walking down a street: Sweden has responded to the pandemic with a partial shutdown less rigorous than other nations. But the Swedish death toll has spiked in recent weeks. © AP Sweden has responded to the pandemic with a partial shutdown less rigorous than other nations. But the Swedish death toll has spiked in recent weeks. Sweden suffered its deadliest month in almost 30 years in April, according to new figures - but much of the country remains open.

The Scandanavian nation has recorded about 3,700 coronavirus deaths since the first reported fatality in March.

But unlike many other European countries, Sweden has kept bars, restaurants and schools open throughout the pandemic.

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world

On April 1, Sweden reported 239 virus-related deaths, but that figure jumped to 2,586 by April 30.

The national Statistics Office said the total death toll in April this year - also counting deaths not related to COVID-19 - was 10,458, Reuters reports.

That is Sweden's highest death toll in a single month since December 1993, when 11,057 people died.

On Monday, Sweden reported a total of 30,377 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 3,698 deaths.

While that number is small in absolute terms compared with the number of people the virus has killed in some large countries, it is worrying for Swedish officials.

Relative to the size of Sweden's 10.2 million population, the number of people who have died is in line with nations that have had far larger outbreaks.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: This market in Malmo in Sweden's south was packed with people. © AP This market in Malmo in Sweden's south was packed with people.

Balmy weather has seen Swedes gathering in outdoor bars and restaurants while parks have been packed during the pandemic.

Rather than declaring a full lockdown, Sweden has adopted a mix of legislation and recommendations in response to the virus that foreign newspapers and broadcasters have widely labelled a relatively soft policy.

The government has banned large gatherings, high schools and universities are closed and authorities recommend social distancing, protecting the elderly, working from home and staying at home if unwell.

Elementary schools however remain open, people have not been obliged to stay indoors and can meet in small groups, and stores have not been forced to close.

a group of people sitting at a table: Swedish cafes such as this one in Gothenburg remained open during the pandemic. © AP Swedish cafes such as this one in Gothenburg remained open during the pandemic.

Some of Denmark's politicians have expressed hesitation about reopening its border to Sweden, pointing to the higher COVID-19 death toll.


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