Swedish epidemiologist targeted with death threats for Covid-19 response

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Sweden's state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, has received death threats over his handling of the pandemic, Swedish newspapers reported on Tuesday.

Swedish police are now investigating threats made against Mr Tegnell and his family, the daily Aftonbladet newspaper reported.

He is seen by many as the controversial mastermind behind the country's relatively relaxed coronavirus measures.

Mr Tegnell on Monday walked back an earlier claim that Stockholm was on course to achieve herd immunity – where a high enough percentage of the population has already developed resistance to the virus to stop it from spreading – by the end of the month.

“No that will not happen,” he told US broadcaster NPR, and added that he thought the immunity rate in the Swedish capital was still likely lower than 30 per cent.

“As you might be aware, there is a problem with measuring immunity for this virus,” he said.

Sweden has taken a markedly more relaxed approach to tackling its coronavirus outbreak. AFP
Sweden has taken a markedly more relaxed approach to tackling its coronavirus outbreak. AFP

A report released last week by Sweden’s public health agency containing the initial findings of an ongoing antibody study showed that only 7.3 per cent of people in the capital had developed antibodies to Covid-19.

Sweden has been forced to defend its response to the coronavirus pandemic, rejecting “a week-by-week measurement of mortality” that shows the Scandinavian country as having one of the highest mortality rates in world.

From May 12 to 19, Sweden reported 6.25 Covid-19 deaths per million people per day across a seven-day rolling average, according to Ourworldindata.org.

That was the highest rate in Europe, followed by Britain’s average of 5.75 deaths per million per day.

Foreign Minister Ann Linde stressed that “transmission is slowing down, the treatment of Covid-19 patients in intensive care is decreasing significantly and the rising death toll curve has been flattened.”

“This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” she added.

Sweden’s relatively soft approach to fighting the coronavirus attracted international attention.

Large gatherings were banned but restaurants and schools for younger children have stayed open.

The government has urged social distancing, and Swedes have largely complied.

But the country has paid a heavy price, with more than 4,000 deaths from Covid-19.

That is about 40 deaths per 100,000 population, compared with about 10 per 100,000 in neighbouring Denmark and just over four per 100,000 in Norway, both of which imposed stricter lockdowns early on.

The novel coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms in most people.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

A woman visits her husband at a retirement home in Bourbourg (North of France), where a double entry bubble has been installed to allow visits without risk of contamination. AFP

Dominic Cummings, the embattled special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at his house in London, Britain. Reuters

Rashad, a volunteer with the grassroots charity Hunger has no Religion, instructs children to maintain social distancing in Johannesburg during an Eid Al Fitr meal distributed to hundreds in the neighbourhoods of Westbury and Coronationville. AFP

A health worker takes samples from a man to test him for Covid-19 coronavirus, at the Biological Sciences unit of the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City. AFP

Nurse Ivanna Banshchikova visits a woman at home in Moscow. AFP

Schoolchildren receive face masks from the director at a primary school in the district of Attecoube in Abidjan on the first day day after resumption of classes. AFP

An orphan plays with her new hula hoop during an Eid Al Fitr food and toy distribution for total about 500 orphans in 11 orphanages in Nairobi, Kenya. AFP

People queue to undergo Covid-19 tests, in San Salvador. El Salvador's government urged the population to comply with preventive measures to stop the growing spread of the coronavirus, which has reached almost 2,000 cases in the country. AFP

A healthcare worker holds a sign reading "14 per cent of healthcare workers in Madrid are infected" during a protest calling for a reinforced healthcare system outside the Gregorio Maranon hospital in Madrid, as Spain loosens its national lockdown. AFP

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen waves after inspecting the military police headquarters in Taipei. AFP

A patient is carried to be transferred on an ambulance boat from the community of Portel to a hospital in Breves, on Marajo island, Para state, Brazil. AFP

A man wearing a protective mask uses a cellphone as he sits on a bench near Shinagawa station on the first day after the Japanese government lifted the state of emergency in Tokyo, Japan. Reuters

A motorist arranges fruits and vegetables for sale next to her vehicle, as an alternative mobile grocery stall on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Reuters


Updated: May 26, 2020 08:16 PM

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