That remains the case despite new stricter measures announced on Monday, when the government banned public events of more than eight people – and said that this limit should set a “norm” even for events not formally covered by the ban.
The World Health Organisation said that evening that adapting strategy to reflect changes in the development of the virus was important.
They also said “masks work” and urged countries in the situation Sweden is currently in to consider recommending them alongside social distancing measures.
The comments were made in reponse to a question from a Svenska Dagbladet reporter, who asked if the significant changes were “a sign of misjudgment” and whether masks would be useful.
Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said his understanding was that there had been “very high compliance” with Sweden's mostly voluntary measures in spring, and cited other advantages such as a high proportion of single-person households, but noted the country had “not been without its difficulties”.
He said the organisation's advice around mask-wearing was clear: “Masks work. Masks work in particular environments where you can't maintain physical distance, where you're in a crowded setting. We would like people to look at all aspects of how you protect yourself, to look at your risk-score in a sense on a weekly basis.”
Coronavirus MAP: Sweden's local recommendations where you live
- EXPLAINED: What does Sweden's new limit on public events actually mean?
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Ryan emphasised the need to assess the risk of different activities, bearing in mind the duration, location and closeness of contact with others. He also said that correct wearing of masks was crucial, including wearing properly fitted masks, covering the nose as well as the mouth.
“There are many situations where wearing a mask is a very good addition to all of the other measures […] So we would advise all countries in situations of widespread community transmission to consider the utilisation of masks, in those specific contexts where transmission risk is high,” he said.
In response to the part of the question about whether the tightening of measures was a sign of misjudgment, he said that adapting policies based on evidence and changes to the situation was a good thing.
“It's a sign that the system is capable of adapting to new realities that you didn't expect to be the case,” he said.
Reporters from Swedish and international press, including The Local, have repeatedly asked the Public Health Agency about its stance towards mask-wearing.
Responding to a question from Aftonbladet on the subject on Tuesday, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven pointed out there is no recommendation against wearing masks, while Public Health Agency director Johan Carlson said the agency was focusing on preventing crowded situations rather than advising masks in these situations.
Neither responded directly to the journalist's question about whether it was necessary to advise wearing masks in situations where crowding cannot reasonably be avoided, for example on public transport when commuting to work that cannot be done from home.