Nordic Countries: Economically Similar, Different In Their Response To The Coronavirus

The Nordic countries are dealing with the coronavirus crisis in different ways. While Norway and Denmark follow in the wake of Spain or Italy, decreeing the total confinement of the population, neighboring countries such as Sweden or Iceland have asked their fellow citizens for caution but have not imposed restrictive measures. Something that at the beginning of the epidemic was not reflected in the death toll, which was similar, but that as the days have passed has left these differences latent and has made Sweden change its mind, which has announced “extraordinary measures “

An image of the popular Drottninggatan pedestrian street in Stockholm on April 1.

Fredrik Sandberg / TT / EFE

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Sweden had its first positive for coronavirus in late January, however it was not until March when the number of cases began to increase exponentially, according to the count of Worldometers. As of today, it is the Nordic country that registers the most deaths with 899 deaths and 10,400 positives.

In the first weeks of the pandemic, Sweden had adopted a position similar to that of the United Kingdom, in which they advocated the good work of citizens so that they comply with the safety distance and take the appropriate precautions. Although teleworking has been recommended, and universities have closed, schools are still open, just like bars and shops across the country.

The Prime Minister explained that “you cannot legislate everything”, and has appealed to the individual responsibility of its citizens. However, it has banned events for more than 50 people and visits to nursing homes. In addition, he has asked the elderly population to avoid going outside. A professor at Stockholm University has estimated that with the measures implemented so far half of Swedes will be infected by the end of April.

Although, according to the polls, the population welcomes these measures, the opposition and other neighboring countries have criticized laxity in their response to the crisis. This Tuesday, the Executive announced an agreement with the opposition to approve an emergency law, in force until the end of June, that allows immediate measures to be implemented, such as the closure of cafes, restaurants, bars, shopping centers or ports. Although this scenario is not yet contemplated.

Saturday local media They have already reported that the government was looking for formulas for more restrictions through the decree. An announcement criticized by parties outside the government coalition, which has forced them to back down and explain that although they implement measures by decree, the Riksdag will have the last word.

On the opposite side are Norway and Denmark, which have ordered the mandatory quarantine of the entire population. With 674 positive cases and the first confirmed death, Norway decided to decree the national confinement of the entire population from March 12 to, for the time being, April 13. In addition, all educational centers, non-essential shops, have been closed. Prime Minister Erna Solberg has already announced that some measures, such as large crowds in bars and festivals will not be allowed until after the summer.

This Monday, the Norwegian Minister of Health has claimed to have the epidemic “under control“in the country,” after minimizing transmission. “Norway has recorded more than 6,000 positives and 103 deaths since the coronavirus epidemic began.

Denmark is working in the same vein. The Nordic country was one of the first European countries to close schools, and since the beginning of March has imposed a policy of confinement at the national level. In addition, a pact between parties and social agents has allowed the State covers between 75% and 90% of workers’ wages

for three months, as long as the company agrees not to fire them. The Government has also promised to pay the rent of those companies that have seen their income reduced and calculate that the investment of these two measures will be 5.7 billion euros.

Although the Danish Prime Minister has extended the confinement until mid-April, classes are scheduled to resume on April 15. But it will not be until after the summer when the large crowds are allowed in the country. More than 6,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Denmark and 273 have lost their lives since the epidemic began.

On March 16, the Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, announced similar measures to those imposed in its neighboring countries: closure of schools and public establishments, crowds of more than 10 people are prohibited, and people over 70 years of age avoid going outside. In contrast, compulsory quarantine has only been decreed for the Helsinki region, the country’s capital, where around 60% of cases are concentrated. According to the figures provided by the government, there are 2,600 cases, of which 1,627 are in that region.

In addition, the government has asked influencers to use their social networks so that the population that does not consume traditional media has access to the necessary information during the crisis. According to reports The GuardianThe campaign also aims to fight disinformation and offer recommendations for using these platforms, such as thinking before publishing something, being critical of content, distinguishing facts from opinions, and not sharing hoaxes.

Now that many countries have entered into an international fight for the purchase of medical equipment, Finland has one of the best reserves in Europe for protective equipment (PPE). In an article published in The New York TimesMagnus Hakenstad, an academic at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies, explains that “it is in the DNA of the Finnish people to be prepared for a catastrophe or a Third World War.” Something that other neighboring countries also did, but later abandoned, instead Finland has kept it even after the Cold War.

Although the number of masks that the country has is unknown, it is classified information, two weeks ago an order was given to distribute the material to all the hospitals in the country, using it for the first time in its history, since the end of the World War II, that reserve, which also includes other resources such as seeds, oil or even material to make ammunition.

Iceland, with 1,700 positive coronavirus cases and six deaths in a population of 364,000 people, has decided to control the epidemic in the country, setting itself the goal of testing all its citizens. Until this Sunday, they had performed more than 35,000 tests, to 8% of the population. In the USA, for example, they have been carried out almost 3 million tests, which represents 0.8% of the population.

This strategy has allowed, explains the Directorate of Health to CNN, find the origin of each virus outbreak and control the epidemic, so the declaration of national confinement has not been necessary. Although the meetings of more than 100 people have been prohibited. On the other hand, a strong quarantine has been imposed -2,861 people today- on the entire population that had symptoms, the asymptomatic who have tested positive, and all those with suspicions of having contracted the virus.

Furthermore, these data suggest that 50% of the Icelandic population that tested positive for COVID-19 had no symptoms, confirming the theory that asymptomatic patients are one of the main sources of transmission of the virus.

An image of the popular Drottninggatan pedestrian street in Stockholm on April 1.

An image of the popular Drottninggatan pedestrian street in Stockholm on April 1.

Fredrik Sandberg / TT / EFE

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