Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven says now is the time to build something better amid the country’s worst pandemic in 50 years.
Speaking from his party’s retreat in Bommersvik the leader of the Social Democrats said, “the coronavirus has shown that the welfare state we are so proud of has clear shortcomings, not least in terms of elderly care.”
The crisis is “a reminder that the society affected by the pandemic was not a perfect society, therefore we will not go back to how everything was before,” he said.
During the speech Lofven resisted calls to finance the country’s emergency measures by trimming the welfare state. “We choose welfare and we must have the world’s best elderly care,” he said, promising to create new jobs and invest across infrastructure.
The remarks come at a testing time for Sweden and the Social Democrat Party, which has seen its support wane over the summer, with latest polling for the party falling to 27.8%, its lowest level since March.
In terms of Covid-19, the Nordic nation has seen an increased rate of infections in the first half of August after it declined rapidly during the prior month. But the country has so far chosen to avoid stricter lockdowns or even the use of face masks.
“The increase we saw at the beginning of August has mainly affected people aged 20-40 who don’t really follow the recommendations in place,” state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said in an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen.
Tegnell however isn’t overly concerned by the latest uptick, which has seen the country’s “R” number, representing the number of people each new case infects, rise to more than 1.2 this month from 0.5 in July.
“It’s not directly worrying, mainly because it hasn’t impacted health care or care for the elderly to any great extent,” the Swedish scientist said.
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