Coronavirus: Sweden to audit crisis preparedness after report highlights failures

Coronavirus: Sweden to audit crisis preparedness after report highlights failures
Doctors in an intensive care unit wear protective equipment. Photo: Magnus Andersson / TT
Sweden has announced an audit into national crisis preparedness after a report highlighted failures in securing key resources when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The mission to analyse the country's ability to secure resources was given to the government funded Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), which on Wednesday had published a report detailing shortcomings in Sweden's ability to respond to the crisis.

The report's researchers found that Sweden had not been prepared for the crisis despite several “warning shots”, including the spread of SARS in 2002, the avian flu in 2006 and the swine flu in 2009.

“Still Sweden stood, like many other countries, with an incomplete preparedness when the corona pandemic hit,” the report said.

“The corona pandemic has put weaknesses in Swedish crisis preparedness and the robustness of society in the spotlight,” it added.

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The report also noted the shortage of protective equipment and other medical supplies, coupled with broken supply agreements and delivery problems which highlighted a lack of “high level planning”.

The requested analysis, to be completed by November, is also to serve as the basis for a more in-depth future government probe.

Sweden, which recently appointed a commission to evaluate its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, never closed society down, opting instead to keep schools for under-16s, cafes, bars and restaurants and most businesses open.

Instead, it relied on voluntary measures such as avoiding non-essential travel (a now-lifted guideline), working from home, and keeping distance from others in public places alongside good hand hygiene. 

The country's Public Health Agency has argued that lockdowns only work temporarily, insisting that drastic short-term measures are too ineffective to justify their impact on people.

The approach has however been the subject of intense debate, especially as Sweden's death toll has far surpassed the tolls in neighbouring Nordic countries, which all imposed more restrictive containment measures at the outset of the pandemic.

On Thursday, the country of 10.3 million inhabitants reported a total of 70,639 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, and 5,411 deaths.


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