Sweden’s PM promises to fix shortcomings exposed by COVID-19 crisis

Rafaela Lindeberg
Bloomberg

Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven has promised to fix the societal flaws exposed by the coronavirus once the Nordic nation has emerged from the coronavirus crisis.

Addressing the nation in a Christmas speech, Lofven said that the shortcomings of “elderly care, security, health care and education need to be made even more robust” following a pandemic that has so far claimed the lives of almost 8,000 Swedes.

The comments come two days after the prime minister announced the country’s toughest restrictions yet amid a second wave of infections that earlier this month threatened to overwhelm the capital’s intensive care units.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven speaks during a coronavirus news conference, in Stockholm, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020.

Striking a more conciliatory tone than recent press conferences, the prime minister on Sunday thanked his fellow countrymen for the sacrifices they have made this year. “We have all been part of the solution,” he said.

But recent polls show Swedes are losing faith in their country’s health agency and the anti-lockdown strategy deployed to tackle the pandemic, with even King Carl XVI Gustaf delivering a rare rebuke last week.

In neighboring Norway, where the death toll stands at just over 400, former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland said it was “astonishing” that Lofven’s government has followed the recommendations of the health agency.

“How is this possible?” she said. “It is one thing how Anders Tegnell has assessed the situation, but Sweden is a country with a government and a parliament,” she said in an interview with newspaper Verdens Gang on Sunday.