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Cemetery workers in protective clothing bury Covid-19 victims om Sao Paulo, Brazil Andre Penner/PA

Covid-19: Swedish cases double to 77,000 since May; Brazil reaches 2 million infections

Sweden’s softer approach to fighting the coronavirus drew global attention

THE NUMBER OF Covid-19 cases in Sweden has doubled to almost 77,000 since the beginning of June, one of the highest rates of new cases in the European Union.

But officials in the country, whose softer approach to fighting the coronavirus drew global attention, say the spread of Covid-19 there is slowing.

In the last two weeks, Sweden was only second to Luxembourg in the EU in terms of new cases per capita, with new infections more than six times the European Union average.

Unlike most European countries, Sweden never imposed a lockdown and made headlines for its high death toll.

It has kept schools for under-16s open and has not closed cafes, bars, restaurants or most businesses. Masks have been recommended only for healthcare workers.

But over the past 60 days, Sweden has seen a drastic increase in the number of new cases.

On 31 May, the country had recorded a total of 39,160 cases. On July 16, the number had almost doubled at 76,877, but deaths had only increased by just over 20 percent to 5,593.

However, authorities stress that serious Covid-19 cases and associated deaths have declined.

“If you increase testing you will find more cases,” deputy state epidemiologist Anders Wallensten told the AFP news agency.

“But the more serious cases, those who become sick and need hospital care have rather decreased,” he added.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency instead has repeatedly stressed that the large increase is mostly made up of milder cases, which would have gone unnoticed previously.

US President Donald Trump has similarly said that the surges in cases around the US are related to increased testing.

But unlike the US, the rise in cases in Sweden has not been accompanied by an increase in intensive care unit admissions.

Meanwhile, Brazil topped two million coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to official data that put the number of deaths at more than 76,000.

Figures published by the health ministry showed there were more than 45,000 new cases over the last 24 hours, and an extra 1,300 deaths.

Brazil is the second worst affected country in the world by the coronavirus after the United States.

© – AFP 2020

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