WHO Envoy Says Sweden Comments in Radio Interview Misinterpreted
People sit at tables outside a cafe at Kungstrdgrden in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photographer: Loulou D’Aki/Bloomberg)

WHO Envoy Says Sweden Comments in Radio Interview Misinterpreted

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A World Health Organization special envoy on Covid-19 has issued a clarification of comments made in a radio interview that were interpreted by many as an endorsement of Sweden’s soft lockdown.

“I make a point of not making specific comparisons between national responses,” David Nabarro said in a statement that followed a a radio interview in New Zealand, which imposed strict measures against the coronavirus. “I encourage all nations to adopt comprehensive prevention and containment strategies.”

During the interview, with Magic Talk radio, Nabarro discussed the different responses in Sweden and New Zealand and said that widespread restrictions on people’s movements “really bite into the livelihoods of everybody.”

New Zealand’s recent decision to reimpose a lockdown in Auckland was the right one, he said. The WHO tends to avoid direct criticism of countries’ health policies.

“Because the origins of cases are unclear, it’s right that there is strong action,” he said.

Unlike much of Europe, Sweden avoided a general lockdown, relying largely on voluntary measures to curb human interactions where the virus could spread. “The government was able to trust the public and the public was able to trust the government,” Nabarro said.

But he also said there’s “still a lot to be worked at from aspects of the Swedish response.” The Nordic nation’s Covid-19 death rate remains considerably higher than in many other countries, at about 57 per 100,000.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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