Nordic family showing cracks in COVID-19 response

The normally harmonious and unified Nordic community of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway have responded differently to the COVID-19 health crisis and have started to play the ‘blame game’, which has come as a surprise to observers and politicians alike.

While Denmark and Norway were quick to adopt tough measures, Finland was late to the party as it followed Sweden’s lead for a long time.

While Denmark and Norway quickly adopted tough measures, Sweden was repeatedly accused of being too lenient. Finland had followed the Swedish example for days, only to adopt strict restrictions on Tuesday (17 March).

Denmark closed its borders on Saturday for a month and will let in only its own citizens and those working in the country. Currently, only foodstuff and medicines can cross the border. Norway has followed suit and closed its ports and airports on Monday (16 March). Both countries have also decided to close their schools, a course of action which Finland also adopted on Tuesday.

Schools in Sweden, however, have been kept open since authorities have been of opinion that closures have no effect when it comes to spreading the virus. On Tuesday morning, however, Sweden urged high schools and universities to use distance learning, while elementary schools and daycare centres remain open for the time being.

Unlike the other three, Sweden has kept its borders open.

“History has taught us that closing the borders is completely useless,” said Anders Tegnell of  Sweden’s Public Health Agency in an article in Aftonbladet. According to him, lockdown lacks scientific justification and is made at a purely political level, not together with health care professionals.

Peter Wolodarski, the editor-in-chief of the country’s biggest newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, has accused Swedish authorities of arrogance and has encouraged them to follow the example of neighbouring countries. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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