Sweden’s top health authority will drop daily press briefings that had provided updates on the country’s Covid-19 infection rate and death toll.
The decision comes amid a furore over Sweden’s strategy to fight the pandemic, after state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell admitted his approach was flawed. Instead of every day, updates will now only be provided on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Sweden’s softer lockdown has resulted in one of the world’s highest death rates, relative to its population. But both Tegnell and Prime Minister Stefan Lofven have insisted there’s no need to change strategies. The controversy had turned the briefings into public grillings during which Tegnell was increasingly pressed to explain himself.
The development has embarrassed the government and led to a dramatic slump in Swedish support for the country’s Covid response. During a debate with party leaders on Wednesday, Lofven acknowledged Sweden should have conducted more tests for the virus.
Meanwhile, members of the opposition have stepped up their attack. Jimmie Akesson, the leader of the populist Sweden Democrats, accused Lofven of “hiding behind” the country’s health experts.
According to a statement published by the Public Health Agency of Sweden, the decision to drop daily briefings takes effect “from now,” and will continue to apply “during the summer.”
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