What is the current situation of restrictions in Sweden?

The Swedish government update their recommendations and restrictions as the situation changes on a daily basis. There are restrictions for gatherings over 50 people, and you are prohibited to visit elderly people at retirement homes and such. There is also a strong recommendation to keep a social distance to other people. The big difference from other countries is that most Swedish schools are still open and that people aren’t actively forced to stay at home, like in many other countries. There are no armed police or soldiers patroling our streets, stopping people who are moving around outdoors.

Why is Sweden approaching the COVID-19 pandemic so differently to other countries?

Professor Mikael Rostila, Head of the Department of Public Health Sciences, Stockholm University.
Photo: N Björling/Stockholm University

"One interpretation is that the citizens of Sweden have very high confidence in the Swedish state and the institutions, and also in the Swedish Public Health Agency", says Professor Mikael Rostila, Head of the Department of Public Health Sciences at Stockholm University. "When there is a high degree of trust in these institutions, people tend to follow their rules, regulations and suggestions to a greater extent", he continues.

Is Sweden taking a huge risk?

Many seem to think that Sweden is taking a huge risk in its approach.
“This remains to be seen, the Public Health Agency in Sweden argue that they have the situation in pretty good control”, says Mikael Rostila.

Is there science backing the decisions in Sweden?

"This is a unique historical situation in societies, which makes it very difficult. Of course we don’t have full scientific evidence to back up our decisions yet, so it will have to remain to be seen. We have seen that the virus is very unpredictable and many countries are in chock of how the situation develops. All we can say at this point is that it remains to be seen whether this is the best approach to control the spreading of the coronavirus and to keep our citizens alive and well. We will have to study the effects of the pandemic after the outbreak and when we have sufficient data to analyse", Mikael Rostila explains.

As the Head of the Department of Public Health Sciences, what advice do you follow?

“I do just the same as most Swedish citizens. They who can, they work from home and try to stay at home as much as possible”, Mikael Rostila explains. “I myself have been working from home these last 3 weeks, I have been using digital solutions for meetings and so on. All lectures at our university were transitioned to distance learning several weeks ago. Stockholm University Campus closed down completely for all students, and the same goes for all the universities in Sweden” says Mikael Rostila.

Mikael Rostila was recently interviewed in TRT World Now.
Listen to the interview here:
* TRT World is a Turkish state international news channel broadcast around the clock in English. The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation is a member of the Association for International Broadcasting.