Sweden can’t figure out what the rest of the world knows about face masks
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  • Despite the trends in the latest global coronavirus update, Sweden is still resisting the policies pursued in much of the Western world to fight the pandemic — like lockdowns and face mask mandates.

  • No surprise, the country’s death rate from the coronavirus is ticking upward, even though some health officials there think face masks wouldn’t be helpful in reducing it.
  • The World Health Organization in recent days expanded its suggestions for when and where face masks should be worn to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

As the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded throughout this year, Sweden has stood, if not alone, then as a clear outlier among nations that have raced to implement tough restrictions and even lockdown measures, along with face mask mandates to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The latest coronavirus update from Johns Hopkins University shows that, globally, more than 65.5 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide since the onset of the pandemic, along with more than 1.5 million deaths from the virus. Yet unlike many nations, Sweden has steadfastly resisted a lockdown strategy as well as a face mask mandate, preferring instead to let its citizens continue about their lives while encouraging them to act responsibly. So, how’s that going? Well, on Thursday, deaths in the country had jumped above 7,000, one day after the World Health Organization expanded its guidelines for when and where face masks should be worn.


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“Face masks may be needed in some situations,” Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said at a news conference on Thursday, with that slight, barely-there acknowledgement of the efficacy of face masks in stark contrast to the clear evidence that they save lives.

“Those situations have not arisen in Sweden yet, according to our dialogue with the (healthcare) regions. WHO is clear that the state of evidence for masks is weak. All studies so far suggest that it is much more important to keep your distance than to have a face mask.”

In Sweden, we have the fifth highest new Covid infections per capita of all EU states (HU,SI,HR&LT are worse). Please, WEAR A FACE MASK! Don’t wait for the health authority’s recommendation. Follow the recommendations of the Swedish Academy&almost all civilized states. Please!

— Tim Rühlig (@ruehlig) December 4, 2020

Why is everybody looking so weird on me because i have a face mask in Sweden?? It should be normal by now…:(

— Lizette Kimona Scheich (@LKScsgo) November 28, 2020

Per Reuters, the 35 new COVID-19 deaths recorded on Thursday in Sweden brought the country’s total to 7,007. In terms of cases, Sweden recorded another 6,485 on Thursday, compared to 7,240 daily cases two weeks ago.

Also on Thursday, the Royal Academy of Sciences — which awards Nobel prizes — warned that Sweden should reverse course regarding its resistance to recommending that its citizens wear face masks to keep themselves safe from the virus. The Royal Academy of Sciences issued a report saying that, among other things, face masks can help reduce the spread of coronavirus infection, especially indoors.

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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