Sweden has launched an inquiry into its decision not to lock down completely when it was initially hit by coronavirus after its number of cases topped 70,000.
A total of 5,411 people have died from COVID-19, according to the country’s official figures, with the number of cases hitting 70,639.
The figures mean Sweden has one of the highest per capita death rates in the world, prompting questions over its decision to put a softer lockdown in place than many of its neighbours.
The inquiry comes after the country’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell last month admitted the country could have done things differently.
Unlike most other European countries, Sweden did not implement strict measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, instead choosing to allow many businesses, areas of the hospitality sector and schools to stay open.
The country has now launched an inquiry into its policy, with prime minister Stefan Lofven reportedly admitting that Sweden’s “shortcomings” had been exposed.
According to The Times, he told a press conference: “We have thousands of dead. Now the question is how Sweden should change, not if.”
Sweden had previously justified its lighter-touch handling of the virus, saying that countries who had imposed strict lockdowns would potentially suffer larger second waves later on.
In May, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told the Financial Times: “In the autumn there will be a second wave. Sweden will have a high level of immunity and the number of cases will probably be quite low.”
But in June he admitted things could have been done differently, saying: “If we were to run into the same disease, knowing exactly what we know about it today, I think we would end up doing something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done.
“Yes, I think we could have done better in what we did in Sweden, clearly.”
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