Many international media, including leading Belgian newspapers, published positive articles on COVID19 in Sweden September this year. But despite their optimism, the Corona situation in Scandinavia’s most populated and biggest country is doing far from good. I gave guidance in the popular Belgian Radio 1 program Nieuwe feiten on 23 September.

As seen earlier during Spring and Summer Swedish media with no exception continued feeding the people misleading news coverage. All media – including Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Nyheter, Swedish Radio (SR) and Swedish Television News (SVT Nyheter) – proudly published that Denmark was having more Corona infections than Sweden. Their headlines and ingresses totally missing the point that the Swedish healthcare is testing several thousand times less per 100,000 people than Denmark. The more you test, the more infections you’ll find.

Even with the substantially less testing things have changed much. Even Sweden’s much criticized Public Health Authority (Fhm) changed course and for the first time since the COVID19 outbreak said that partners of Corona ill people should not go to work. Something common in many other countries, this “recommendation” is somewhat of a revolution in Sweden where the restrictions have been and are still quite liberal compared to other nations.

Sewage water

Royal Technical researchers (KTH) found that the number of infections in e.g. Stockholm are on the same high level as in May, when the big surge in thousands of Corona deaths took place. They compared the sewage water samples of the past months, and as many other international researchers have shown, our waste water is a great indicator for the number of infections in a certain area.


Meanwhile the discussion in Sweden on the use of facemasks has intensified just before the academic year started in September. Even the Fhm is now saying the facemask could be “complementary”, but only after the principal of the leading Karolinska Institute of university studies in Stockholm made wearing facemasks at its locations obligatory for all.


Still, the Swedish Public Health Authority is refusing to look at its neighbouring countries for comparison of how Sweden has tackled the disease. This has even got a new verb proposition by a language nerd to the country’s Language Magazine (Språktidningen): “att tegnella”, or tegnellizing. Named after the bolt, popular and notorious chief state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell. The propositioned meaning is “to talk about that we in Sweden are the best at almost everything, no matter what it’s about. What everyone else thinks is wrong and (the Corona situation) should not be compared to similar countries, but only with countries that are worse off”.

Scandinavian nations

Looking at the Scandinavian nations, which are logic to compare due to similar social economic standards and culture – moreover Stockholm is not that much different than Copenhagen or Oslo, Sweden stands out after months into the pandemic. As the number of infections is very much affected by the number of tests the number of deaths give a better indication. As of the end of the second week of October Sweden approaches 5,900 COVID19 deaths since March, compared to less than 280 in Norway, less than 350 in Finland and almost 670 in Denmark. As Sweden has twice the number of people than it’s neighbours those numbers should be doubled, but even about 1,350 for Denmark if the population would be twice the size is very low to the Swedish number, while the population density is higher in Denmark than in Sweden.

No second wave?

On the positive side, Sweden so far doesn’t seem to have a second wave – partly probably because of the high number of death in the first wave. At 10 October 2020 only 24 COVID19 patients were admitted at the Intensive Care Units in Sweden. Maybe there is room for some optimism anyway. | © 2020 Marcel Burger / (text and featured photo)