US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — When Sweden decided to overcome the crisis caused by the coronavirus in a special way, she promised her old people: we will build a wall around you. It was clear to everyone: in a society where, while respecting social distance, they rely on consciousness, and not on prohibitions, risk groups should be protected especially carefully.
The protection of the elderly was declared the core of the Swedish course. But at the very latest before Easter it became clear: this part of the strategy “catastrophically failed”, as the tabloid Aftonbladet, who had previously ardently defended the Swedish line, wrote.
As of Monday, 3256 deaths from coronavirus were recorded in Sweden, i.e. three times more than in neighboring countries combined – Denmark (529), Finland (271) and Norway (219). Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs indicate that more than half of the deaths are reported in nursing homes, chronicles hospitals, and among people in care homes. The numbers here are much higher than in neighboring countries.
“Sweden has sacrificed its old people” – this is the title of one of the posts on its website by the state Finnish television and radio company Yle.
Swedish officials, who behave quite confidently in other situations, now acknowledge that they have overlooked this point. Had they, at the beginning itself, provided all the necessary care and attention for seniors, they could have avoided this situation to an extent. However, they are not shy about publicly declaring that they are “extremely surprised” by this situation. So, for example, over the weekend, Health Minister Johan Carlson said on a telecast that no one knew how bad things were with nursing homes in the country.
Paper napkin masks with rubber bands attached by a stapler
No one except people who are aware of the condition of Swedish nursing homes. Everyone could have predicted “what will happen just like that,” said Ingmar Skoog, a professor from Gothenburg and director of the Center for Health and Aging, a TT news agency in April. According to him, the coronavirus only revealed flaws that have been systemic for several years now.
Savings and privatization in this sector have led to the absence of everything in nursing homes. “They wore paper napkins with rubber bands attached by a stapler, these were their protective masks,” a Swedish doctor told the Süddeutsche newspaper about their acquaintances working in a nursing home.
“We turned out to be the worst in the northern countries when it came to saving our old people,” writes Aftonbladet. According to the newspaper, in the privatization of this sector, Sweden is far ahead of all neighboring countries. “The thirst for profit and privatization have proved deadly.”
The government is now analyzing what went wrong. Critics point to a whole bunch of mistakes: for example, the high turnover of poorly paid personnel in caring for the elderly. These workers are paid hourly and cannot afford to stay home when they have throat tickles.
In addition, this staff has never been tested on covid-19. And the Ministry of Health never took the danger of asymptomatic infection seriously. “The biggest mistake was that they just told staff in nursing homes: stay home if you feel unwell,” explains writer and virologist Lena Einhorn in an interview with Süddeutsche.
The authorities realized that it was urgent to rectify the situation in nursing homes. “Now everything depends on it,” says Anders Tegnell, the country’s chief epidemiologist. Otherwise, the country is in danger of losing from 8 to 20 thousand citizens due to coronavirus – this is what mathematician Tom Britton from Stockholm University believes.
The government assures that it has already taken stringent measures. The number of infected in nursing homes seems to have really decreased, as indeed in the whole country. And Prime Minister Stefan Löfven promised to “improve living conditions in nursing homes,” without going into details.
But, it seems, nobody feels really responsible for the fact that the virus was so raging among the elderly in boarding schools. “We will all take responsibility together as a society,” said Minister of Social Affairs Lena Hallengren on SVT. But so just critics from the government will not lag behind.
Journalist Björn Hagstedt on the same channel unleashed his anger. Hugstedt’s 92-year-old father contracted the coronavirus in a nursing home and died completely alone, without relatives. Hogstedt wrote an article about the death of his father, which caused a great response. He is sure: this is the fault of the authorities. “Many paid with their lives for their incompetence.”
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