Sweden nears all-time high of COVID-19 cases in hospital

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lund

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden, known for its soft-touch response to the coronavirus pandemic, was close to an all-time high on Monday for the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in hospital, according to official figures.

Unlike most European countries, Sweden has shunned masks and official lockdowns, instead focusing on voluntary measures including social distancing and good hygiene.

It has registered more than 7,500 deaths, a much higher per capita rate than its Nordic neighbours but lower than in Britain, Italy, Spain or France, which have all opted for lockdowns.

The National Board of Health and Welfare said 2,406 patients were receiving hospital care for COVID-19, slightly below the peak of 2,412 recorded on April 20.

SVT public television said its own calculations showed that that peak had already been exceeded.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Gareth Jones)