Returned at the end of last week to Sweden after spending three months in Israel.
Israel took the Coronavirus pandemic extremely seriously. Restrictions, lockdown, fines for breaking quarantine and more.
Israelis have paid a heavy economic price for these draconian measures.
But they have by and large stayed safe, and they have survived. At least physically.
Sweden’s population is about the same size as Israel’s. But Sweden is about 22 times larger than Israel is. So its infection and fatality rates in this much more sparsely populated country should be significantly lower.
The truth, however, is the very opposite. The fatality rate in sparsely populated Sweden is about 18 times higher than in densely populated Israel. The infection rate in Sweden is about two and a half times higher. And the infection recovery rate in Sweden is three times lower. But this latter figure is misleading – the ratio between confirmed infections and recoveries tells a very different tale: in Israel the recovery rate is almost 86 per cent (15,000 recovered patients out of a total of 17,500 infected people at the time of writing), whereas the recovery rate in Sweden is just 12 per cent (5,000 recoveries out of a total of 42,000 cases for the same period).
Arriving in Sweden last weekend after three months, it was easy to see why the Coronavirus is rampant here, why Israel (along with most of Europe) is about two months ahead of Sweden in combating the disease.
Border police examined our passports as we entered the terminal building, on the floor by the doorway, not in their customary glassed-in booths. We stood in line by the door. Not one officer wore a mask. I handed over my passport and instinctively took a step back so as not to be too close to the unprotected officer, as much for her sake as mine, but i couldn’t step back more than about 30 cm as the next passenger in line was right behind me, and that’s how densely packed the entire queue was.
Driving home, we did not see anyone wearing a mask. We got home to see our neighbours sitting on the grass enjoying a picnic. They sat about 30 cm apart, several families together. Children were playing ‘tag’ on the green. The term “social distancing” has apparently not made its way into Sweden’s consciousness.
People were sniggering at our masks. We’d just arrived from what was arguably one of the safest countries on Earth, to what is today widely regarded as the European epicentre of the disease. Mentally, psychologically, we’d stepped right into the uninformed, ignorant Middle Ages.
We flew from Israel via Germany to Sweden. But we cannot make that same journey in reverse – neither Germany nor Israel will allow Swedes to enter. Neither will any other European country. Neighbouring Denmark and Norway have locked their borders with Sweden.
It’s an indictment on the failed “Swedish social experiment”, whose salient point appeared to be to infect as many people as quickly as possible and let the strong survive. The fact that a massively disproportionate number of Sweden’s elderly have been killed off – and yes, I knowingly use the active form of the verb – is unofficially being seen as a financial benefit. After all, they were “just” pensioners, costing the nation their regular monthly pensions without any longer paying into the system. It’s a net financial gain for the Swedish government. You’d be hard pressed to find a government more devoid of empathy than that of Sweden.
Sweden’s dedication to the unproven “herd immunity” concept meant that parents who kept their children at home were threatened with legal action for failing to comply with compulsory schooling legislation. This in a country where Muslim schoolchildren routinely flout the very same legislation, leaving classes whenever Christianity, Judaism or Israel are discussed. And yes, they do so without threat of legal action.
As fears grow overseas of a possible second wave of the infection, Sweden is still struggling with an alarming increase in its first wave.
It doesn’t bode well for a population that has received no guidance, legislation, medication, testing, or plans for handling the social, financial, personal, or commercial and employment losses that continue to escalate on a daily basis.
Most observers acknowledge that dictatorships likes North Korea, Syria, the Yemen and the Palestinian Authority are the epitome of “failed states”. To that list can be added Sweden – only most Swedes are too busy enjoying the early summer weather to notice.