Sweden relaxes Covid-19 rules by allowing care home visits

Sweden still has one of the highest death rates in Europe.
Sweden still has one of the highest death rates in Europe.PHOTO: AFP

STOCKHOLM (BLOOMBERG) - From next month Swedes will be able to visit elderly care homes for the first time since April as the spread of Covid-19 infections continues to slow down.

"I am happy to announce that the restrictive order will end," said Minister of Social Affairs Lena Hallengren at a press conference.

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell described the move as "completely reasonable since transmission has decreased radically recently, and it's obvious that knowledge and routines have improved greatly."

The ban "doesn't feel like a reasonable balance at the moment," Tegnell told reporters in Stockholm.

The government imposed the visitor ban on Apr 1 amid fierce criticism that more should have been done to protect the elderly at the outset of the pandemic.

The country still has one of the highest death rates in Europe, at about 57 per 100,000, which compares to rates of 11 in Denmark and 5 in Norway.

Following the announcement, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven took to social media to express his sympathies for the many elderly who have been "alone and isolated."

Lofven also said that the lifting of the ban means that relatives will have to take great responsibility by avoiding visits "at the slightest symptom of illness."