Sweden Refuses Mandatory Masks Wearing As Number of COVID-19 Cases Is Rising
The Swedish authorities have refused to introduce mandatory masks wearing against the backdrop of the growing number of COVID-19 cases and fortnight-doubling number of cases of hospitalisation in the ICU. The decision was sharply criticized by the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize.
The Swedish authorities do not intend to abandon scepticism about masks, despite the sharp increase in the number of hospital admissions to the ICU, reports Bloomberg.
« We don’t think we are in a position to recommend the widespread use of masks in public transport, » said Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of the Swedish Public Health Agency, on Thursday. According to her, masks should not be « used as an excuse » for not respecting social distance.
The lack of a requirement to wear masks has been the subject of strong criticism from the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobel Prize, says Bloomberg. « To quickly slow down the spread of [the coronavirus], we must use all the tools at our disposal. These include masks and improved ventilation [of rooms], » said Staffan Normark, Professor of Microbiology and head of the Academy’s expert group. The Academy emphasises that it supports the recommendations of the World Health Organisation, which advises that masks should be worn, rooms – ventilated and people stay socially distanced.
Sweden has chosen a strategy of voluntary compliance instead of a lockdown. However, as the number of people infected with coronavirus is rising, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has urged citizens to do more to avoid facing a ‘very dark’ winter, says Bloomberg. This week he banned public meetings in groups of more than eight people, calling the decision « unprecedented », the agency says.