Lockdown-bashing Sweden sees highest 6-month death tally for 150 years with 1 in 11 due to coronavirus

SWEDEN recorded its highest death tally in 150 years during the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, says its Statistics Office.

Covid-19 claimed about 4,500 lives of the 51,405 who died in the period to the end of June – a much higher percentage than in other Nordic nations.

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Sweden, unlike the rest of Scandinavia, chose not to close schools and businesses to fight the spread of the deadly bug.

Coronavirus has now claimed 5,800 lives in Sweden, which has stood out among European countries for its low-key approach to fighting the pandemic.

The Statistics Office said on Wednesday that, in total, 51,405 Swedes died in the January-to-June period.

CNN said there were 6,500 more fatalities (or 15 per cent) when compared to the same period in 2019.

This is a higher number than any year since 1869 when 55,431 died, partly as a result of a famine.

The population of Sweden was around 4.1million then, compared to 10.3million now.

Covid-19 meant that deaths were about 10 percent higher than the average for the period over the last five years, the Statistics Office added.

In April, the number of deaths was almost 40 per cent higher than average due to a surge in Covid-related fatalities.

In 2019, there were fewer than 89,000 deaths over 12 months, which was the lowest number of deaths in a single year since 1977.

In 2018, when many people died from the influenza, there were more than 92,000 deaths in Sweden.

Sweden has taken a different approach to most European countries in dealing with the pandemic, and has controversially shunned a strict lockdown.

Rather than make face coverings mandatory or shutter shops, the country has relied on voluntary measures focused on social distancing.

Most schools have remained open and many businesses have been continued to operate to some extent, meaning the economy has fared better than many others.

However, the death toll has been higher than in its Nordic neighbours, which opted for tougher lockdown measures.

Norway, with around half the population, has had only about 260 Covid deaths in total by comparison.

The Statistics Office reported this week that Sweden has also seen low population growth during the pandemic.

By mid-2020, there were 10,352,390 people registered living in Sweden.

The population growth in the first six months of the year was 24,801 people, "which was the lowest population increase since 2005", officials said.

They added: "The low population growth is the result of a substantial drop in immigration and a higher number of deaths during the coronavirus pandemic."

The figures come as Sweden's top coronavirus expert described the use of face masks as "very dangerous" and is adamant that the country will not force people to wear them.

Anders Tegnell is sceptical that face masks will control the spread of Covid-19 because they give the impression that it's safe to be in a crowded room or on public transport.

Mr Tegnell said that infections were rising in countries such as Belgium and Spain where the wearing of face coverings is mandatory.

"It's very dangerous to believe face masks would change the game when it comes to Covid-19," he told the Financial Times.

"Face masks can be a complement to other things when things are safely in place.

"But to start with having face masks and then think you can crowd your buses or your shopping malls – that's definitely a mistake."

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