King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife, Queen Silvia, of Sweden held a church ceremony on March 11th to honor the victims of the Coronavirus.
Held at the chapel of the Drottningholm Palace, the memorial service also coincided with the one-year anniversary of the first death of the pandemic in the country, reports ABC News.
As of Thursday, more than 13,100 people succumbed to the deadly virus in the Scandanavian nation. Unlike the majority of countries in the world, Sweden refused to implement lockdowns and it became famous for its decision to rely on voluntary measures such as letting its citizens’ sense of civic duty to control infections and practice cautious behavior like wearing of face masks.
We are seeing an increase in cases again, we need to take new measures. —Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden
The monarch, Sweden’s head of state but has no political power, criticized how the country dealt with the pandemic and believed that the government has failed to protect the elderly in care homes.
An independent commission released a report which found that systemic shortcomings and inadequate measures contributed to the high death toll in nursing homes in the country. The report blamed the government for its lapses, including poorly educated staff and a shortage of health workers in elderly care, according to Reuters.
“The aspect of it (the pandemic strategy) which centered on protecting the elderly failed. There is no other way to view the fact that so many died in COVID-19,” said Mats Melin, the commission chairman. “The government should have taken steps to ensure the elderly care was better prepared for the pandemic.”
In December, the government started tightening Covid-19 restrictions and reversed its earlier guidelines, reports BBC. Swedes were asked to wear face masks during the rush hour and to practice social distancing. Restaurants were advised to limit four customers per table, instead of eight, and authorities imposed a ban on alcohol sales after 8:00 p.m. To protect young students, schools started transitioning to remote learning.
As new variants of the Coronavirus are detected and the number of those infected continues to spike, Sweden started implementing health protocols to stop the spread of the deadly illness, reports Business Insider.
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said, “We are seeing an increase in cases again, we need to take new measures.” He warned that, “If the situation gets worse, the government is prepared to enforce a possible lockdown in parts of Sweden. Hopefully, that will not be needed.”
As of March 1, Sweden imposed a limit on the number of people allowed in public places such as malls and gyms. Restaurants and cafes which do not serve alcohol are advised to close at 8:30 p.m., while restaurants in shopping malls are restricted to offering takeaway only.