Covid-19 in Europe - Sweden April 2020

Our twinned clubs in Sweden, Italy and France are locked down like the UK, but are still busy supporting their members and their local community. Here Sweden reports on life under lockdown in Sweden.

So ....  Different In Sweden?

“How is it working and what is life like?”

Like the UK, Swedish policies are based on scientific and expert advice from its Public Health Authority (PBA). Yet Sweden is tackling Covid-19 differently to other countries.  Our Friend and Swedish Rotarian from Karlshamn Club, Bengt Norman, reports his views of the situation, based on the official view of the Swedish authorities.

Covid-19 treatment can demand intensive care (IC) so its spread of Covid-19 has to be limited so scarce hospital resources (ventilators) would suffice – “flattening the curve” like the UK.

Just Like Us

What is the approach?

Older people, especially with other health problems, should isolate and family members should not visit them, not at home and especially not at nursing homes!  Most nursing homes have forbidden visits totally.

Testing has been primarily for confirming Covid19 in patients, and also hospital staff.  With a little cold, you can go to work. Hospitals need their staff. 

What is recommended: Avoid socializing, social distancing, do not go to work if you felt sick, do not travel and the size of large gatherings is limited . Swedish borders were not closed, but neighbouring countries and most countries from which you could travel had their borders closed anyway.

Despite a heavy load on hospitals, especially in the Stockholm area, everyone needing Intensive Care was accommodated.

“Herd Immunity”

Where is Sweden unique?

The Swedish strategy assumed that, eventually, many will get infected, so unlike other countries, social gathering was limited initially only to 500 people, and then reduced to 50 – not 2 as in the UK.  This would flatten the curve, but the pandemic would not “die out” until a majority of the population had built up immunity, so Covid-19 spread to allow “herd immunity” to build up.

When the risk of a new outbreak of people getting sick is low enough, society can be restarted, minimizing the economic “cost” of the pandemic, and avoiding a second wave of infection.

Personal Perspective

The pandemic in Sweden erupted in Stockholm from people coming back from skiing holidays in northern Italy.  Bengt was skiing in Andorra in early March and was not affected. Only a week later these resorts closed too.

Since he and his wife are in the “risk group” over 70, they were isolated at home.  They take a daily walk and do minor excursions, keeping distant if they meet someone, and shop in the open market in the town square and  via “Click and Collect” from the store. This works well!

Their children and grandchildren are mostly near Stockholm and Gothenburg. Planned family gatherings have been cancelled, but they see them more often than previously through videoconferencing with all the children at the same time. Very nice. They will keep these traditions!

Infection still spreads. Bengt's stepson in Stockholm went to a birthday party early March. Out of 100 guests, 70 became sick with Covid-19,  Ten needed hospital care and two needed ICU care with ventilators. Both have recovered but one had some organ failure and will have lasting damage.

In the county around Karlshamn there were about ten confirmed cases out of about 150,000 inhabitants, four of which are in hospital and two of these in the Intensive Care Unit.  Two have now died.

Rotary Continues

Rotary meetings take place using the Software “GoToMeeting”, and are also Webinars. 
This was also used this for a video meeting with the other five “twinned” Clubs (see separate report).

At the last Club meeting we tried having an invited lecturer. This also worked well.
We are not used to seeing everybody’s faces during the formal meeting!  Usually they are behind you or you see their necks.

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