Swedish PM to appoint coronavirus inquiry

PM Stefan Lofven says Sweden will launch an inquiry into the country's handling of the pandemic.
PM Stefan Lofven says Sweden will launch an inquiry into the country's handling of the pandemic.

Sweden will launch an inquiry into the country's handling of the pandemic before the northern summer, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has said in a newspaper interview amid growing criticism over nursing home deaths and the lack of testing.

Lofven had previously said a commission would be appointed once the crisis was over but was under pressure to act sooner.

"We need to take an overall approach to see how it has worked at national, regional and local levels," Lofven told Swedish daily Aftonbladet in an interview.

"We will make a decision for a commission before the summer," he said.

Sweden has taken a more liberal approach to combating the virus than its neighbours and has left most schools, restaurants and businesses open, relying on voluntary measures focused on good hygiene and social distancing to stem the outbreak.

More than 4000 people in Sweden, roughly half of them nursing home residents, have died in the pandemic, a per capita rate many times higher than in other Nordic countries, all of which imposed tighter restrictions.

While the mortality rate over the course of the outbreak has been lower than in some countries that opted for hard lockdowns, such as Italy and the UK, Sweden had the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Europe relative to the size of the population through parts of May.

Testing for the disease has also run well below the level in other Nordic countries, reaching only a third of the government's target of 100,000 tests per week, sparking criticism from opposition parties.

Sweden reported eight more deaths due to the coronavirus on Monday.

The Public Health Agency said it had recorded 4403 coronavirus-related deaths and about 37,800 infections.

Australian Associated Press