Has Sweden Finally Shown Some Common Sense? By Richard Miller
Credit where credit is due, after criticism Sweden for years, I finally find the Swedes being something more than vegetables. As for the coronavirus pandemic, they are taking the relaxed approach, not getting paranoid, banning people seeing their boyfriends or girlfriends or transgendered people, and so on:
“Sweden is perhaps the only country that is not demolishing it’s people’s means of making a living in order to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Their approach is much different, and they are still thriving while we are all suffering in what could very well be the beginning of another Great Depression. Sweden has not closed its borders or its schools; neither has it closed non-essential businesses or banned gatherings of more than two people. Their economy is still going strong, and people can still eat regularly. While the rest of the world, including the United States, imposes severe totalitarian restrictions on people’s lives and remove their source of income, Sweden is taking a more relaxed approach in response to the coronavirus outbreak, according to CNBC. The Public Health Agency’s lead epidemiologist, and a key figure in Sweden’s national response to the coronavirus, is Anders Tegnell. He told CNBC that although his country’s strategy to tackle the virus was different, the aim was the same. “My view is that basically all European countries are trying to do the same thing — we’re trying to slow down the spread as much as possible to keep healthcare and society working … and we have shown some different methods to slow down the spread,” he told CNBC Monday. Sweden is relying on the public to adopt voluntary controls, such as staying home when sick, to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Their people are still enjoying life because of it too, and there’s little panic and economic stress to the public. This approach should have been the one all countries adopted, considering the virus will spread and no one can be locked down for months without harsh repercussions.
“Sweden has gone mostly for voluntary measures because that’s how we’re used to working,” Tegnell added. “And we have a long tradition that it works rather well.” He said the agency had explained to the population why social distancing was needed, “and so far, it’s been working reasonably well.” Sweden is proving that totalitarian measures and the destruction of people’s livelihoods is not necessary to combat the spread of the virus. “The incline (in infection and death rates) in Sweden is less steep than in many countries and that’s exactly what we’re trying to achieve,” Tegnell said, adding that opinion polls showed the Swedish public was overall in favor of the agency’s approach. Life in Sweden appears normal compared to the rest of the planet. Massive amounts of fear are not needed to fight the virus. “Besides the obvious social media influences, I think if they would have enforced harsher initiatives like other countries there would have been more panic,” said Tom, an Englishman who works in construction in Stockholm. This is a useful social experiment, as we will see what works best, authoritarian social controls, or a more liberal approach. But the case of social distancing in India should give us pause for concern:
“Hundreds of thousands of migrant laborers in India have started on long, gruelling journeys on foot to get home after being rendered essentially jobless and homeless due to the nationwide lockdown ordered by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a bid to quell the spread of the coronavirus. Just last week, India’s prime minister ordered all 1.3 billion people in the world’s second most populous country to stay indoors in the largest and one of the most drastic actions undertaken anywhere to mitigate COVID-19 infections. However, with many businesses shutting down in cities all across the country, this lockdown has triggered an exodus of workers as they were suddenly left with neither food nor shelter. A report from the New York Times said that thousands of migrant workers in Delhi, even entire families, were seen walking along the interstate highways. Some of these workers planned to walk hundreds of miles just to get home. However, their efforts were cut short as they were beaten back by police once they reached the Delhi border. “You fear the disease, living on the streets. But I fear hunger more, not corona,” Papu, who came to Delhi for work and was trying to return home to the state of Uttar Pradesh 125 miles away, told the New York Times. On Sunday, Uttar Pradesh’s local government managed to make arrangements to bring many of these wayward migrants home, commissioning about 1,000 buses for transport. Migrants then flocked to the outskirts of Delhi, waiting in mile-long lines to board one of the few buses making their trips. However, by Sunday afternoon, India’s central government ordered all states to close their borders and for all the migrants to stay where they are. As of writing, India has reported 1,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 32 deaths. While dozens of countries worldwide go under lockdown to contain their own coronavirus outbreaks, crowded places stricken with poverty like India might not benefit from such measures. Many of the country’s people live in the slums and urging people to stay home and practice social distancing would only mean hunger for many Indians. According to the New York Times, about 80 percent of India’s workers are in the informal sector, meaning that they lack contracts and are unprotected by the country’s various labor laws. Many of these people are manual laborers working in fields, factories and even on the streets themselves. Ashu and his two brothers work at one of Delhi’s biggest dumps as ragpickers – scavengers who scrounge for scrap metal. After a hard day’s work, Ashu can, at most, earn 43 cents a day. However, ever since the lockdown, they have not been able to go back to the dump in fear of being caught and beaten by the police. “I hear there is a virus from China going around,” Ashu said. “But I’m more afraid of the police and not being able to eat.”
In other words, for poor countries with massive populations, social distancing may be totally impractical and worse than the disease itself, and impossible to implement anyway. That means, as long as globalisation occurs, there will be a constant infection of the West.