Why Australia shouldn't adopt Sweden's controversial coronavirus approach

·2-min read

While countries around the world have imposed variations of lockdowns to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, Sweden has taken a controversial approach allowing most of the country to remain open.

The Scandinavian nation has encouraged social distancing but managed to avoid shutting down businesses or imposing a strict stay at home message, apparently taking the herd immunity approach.

Herd immunity is a situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease to make its spread from person to person unlikely, but according to ANU Medical School infectious diseases physician Peter Collignon – it’s not ideal for Australia.

Pictured (left) are people enjoying sitting at a cafe in Sweden as opposed to Australia (right) where beaches have closed.
Sweden (left) has approached the coronavirus pandemic in a much more relaxed way than countries like Australia (right). Source: AAP/Getty

“Sweden only has a population of about 10 million people and they’ve had close to 3,000 deaths, where Australia has only had about 96 deaths, so they’ve got a much higher death rate – it’s something like 50 times higher the death rate that we’ve had,” he told Yahoo News Australia during a Facebook Live Q&A.

Professor Collignon said although Australia’s economy may have suffered due to coronavirus restrictions, enforcing strict guidelines has saved lives.

“So far what Australia has done – yes, we’ve probably put more people out of work than Sweden has – but we’ve also stopped an awful lot of deaths,” he said.

“I don’t think we have to follow the New Zealand approach either of locking everybody down for five or six weeks but equally, I’m not sure the Swedish approach is the right approach either”.

Professor Collignon said it was better for Australia to err on the side of caution while we learn more about the virus that has killed more than 267,000 people globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“We’re still at the stage where there is a lot that we don’t know about this virus, so until we know more I think it’s better to be a bit more cautious.”

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