SWEDEN'S refusal to go into coronavirus lockdown is leading the country towards catastrophe, scientists have warned.
Daily life is carrying on as normal despite the rest of Europe being in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, with pubs, schools, restaurants and cinemas all still open.
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Sweden has so far seen 4,435 cases of the coronavirus and 180 deaths as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government says lockdown would lead to an economic disaster.
And although the Scandinavian country's relaxed "wait and see" approach flies in the face of all medical guidance it has no immediate plans to change its liberal ways.
The relaxed measures have raised alarm in the country's medical community.
A petition signed by more than 2,000 doctors, scientists, and professors has now called on the government to get tough and tighten restrictions.
“We’re not testing enough, we’re not tracking, we’re not isolating enough – we've let the virus loose,” said Prof Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, a virus expert at the Karolinska Institute.
“They are leading us to catastrophe.”
But Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist, insists the government policies will prove effective.
"We are trying to slow the spread enough so that we can deal with the patients coming in," he said.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that doing more at this stage would make any difference.
"It’s far better to introduce stringent measures at very specific intervals, and keep them running for as little time as possible.”
The most common age for a Swede to move out their parents’ home is between 18 and 19 – compared to the EU average of 26.
Some experts believe that these solo living patterns might help stem the spread of deadly coronavirus.
In the pandemic hotspots of Italy and Spain it is far more common for large families to congregate under one roof.
“If you have a household with several generations, of course you are going to have a quick spread,” Björn Olsen, a professor of infectious diseases at Uppsala University told the BBC.
“We have a lot of single people living in Stockholm, in the big cities in Sweden, and that could sort of slow the pace a little bit.”
PM Stefan Lofven has tightened restrictions in recent days – limiting gatherings to 50 – but insists there is still no need to follow the herd.
Its closest neighbours – Denmark, Finland, and Norway – have all introduced a no-nonsense lockdown strategy, closing schools, workplaces and borders weeks ago.
Norway has around a quarter of the deaths (39) than the figure recorded in Sweden and insists its tough stance is already saving lives.
As of today, Denmark has recorded 90 coronavirus fatalities and Finland just 17.
But Lofven has said: "We all, as individuals, have to take responsibility. We can't legislate and ban everything. It is also a question of common sense.
“We who are adults need to be exactly that: adults. Not spread panic or rumours. No one is alone in this crisis, but each person has a heavy responsibility.”
His Social Democratic government has argued citizens can be trusted to act responsibly and will stay indoors if they experience any symptoms.
The public has been told to practise social distancing and to work from home if possible but ONLY those over 70 are urged to self-isolate.
While standing at bars has in theory been banned, pubs and restaurants continue to serve customers day and night.
Secondary schools and universities have now closed, but preschools and primary schools are still open as usual.
Photos coming out of the country still paint a picture of a country seemingly untouched by the global pandemic.
Bars and diners are seen overflowing with customers and buses and trains are packed with families and commuters.
Public parks and shopping malls are also bustling with only the odd glimpse of a face mask hinting things aren't quite as normal as they seem.
And, perhaps that is not surprising, as according to a new poll more than a half of Swedes are more than happy to carry on as if the virus doesn't exist.
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