A few months ago, these countries were among the worst affected by the pandemic, but now they are surprisingly able to keep the disease under control, although Europe is covered by a “second wave”
Lifting quarantine worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic should not have been easy. But at a time when outbreaks are again occurring from Spain to Australia, it is worth noting that two of the countries most affected by the coronavirus, namely Italy and Sweden, have managed to keep the spread of the disease under control.
The number of confirmed daily cases in both countries now averages about 200. This is well below their peak values, there is no strong rebound of the pandemic, and hospitals are not currently overcrowded. He writes about it Bloomberg. Instead, in Spain last week, the daily number of new cases exceeded two thousand, and in France – a thousand. And for these countries, no doubt, the second wave began. But is it worth asking what Italy and Sweden are doing to keep the coronavirus under control?
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Both countries have previously stood out in Europe for rather annoying reasons. Italy became the first country on the continent to be hit by COVID-19. Rome was the first to impose strict quarantine. Sweden preferred a more liberal and dubious approach, which contradicted practices even in the Scandinavian club. Stockholm left schools open and only announced advice on social distancing and self-isolation instead of strict quarantine.
Although Italian restrictions probably saved lives, they came too late. Meanwhile, there was no Swedish quarantine. In Italy, the coronavirus killed more than 35,000 people. This means that the country had 600 deaths per million population. In Sweden, a similar figure, although 5.7 thousand people died here. However, at this stage after the peak, when Italy is gradually rebuilding its economy and Sweden is following its old policy, it seems that both countries have found a way to live with the coronavirus.
In Italy, vertical post-quarantine health management seems to be working. As in other countries, here people should not approach each other closer than a meter, wear a mask in public places or in transport. But Italy has taken a particularly tough approach to meeting all these requirements.
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To get on a train or go into an office building, you need to measure the temperature. And dinner at the restaurant includes the transfer of the administration of their contacts, so that in case of infection you can track all the contacts. In Sardinia, Sicily and Puglia, special forms must be completed to gain access to popular tourist destinations. In northern Italy in Lombardy, where the epicenter of the pandemic was, masks should be worn even on the street. Across the country, violating quarantine is a crime for which you have to pay a fine or even serve time in prison.
The effectiveness of these rules shows the willingness and desire of people to comply with them, – said Rosanna Tarricone, a professor at Bocconi University. The regulations apply to how people dance at discos or sunbathe on the beaches. And without certain penalties for violations, the results are unlikely to be brilliant. The memory of the horrific scenes from overcrowded hospitals in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic also motivates many. Therefore, a sense of collective responsibility, combined with fear, has taken root in Italy.
If in Italy bureaucracy, enforcement and obedience have become the key to controlling COVID-19 outbreaks, Sweden is, at first glance, doing the exact opposite. After hesitations and doubts about its non-intervention approach, especially after the large number of deaths in nursing homes and the rise in infections in June, the country still maintained its course.
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In Sweden, wearing a mask is not required. Social distancing is a recommendation, not a rule. And people are simply advised to stay home if they feel unwell. The fact that the contagion curve in Sweden has leveled off will no doubt be a compelling argument for anti-quarantine protesters in the United States, who are demanding, “Let’s be like Sweden!” But they lose sight of the main thing.
The Swedes did not benefit from simply allowing the virus to spread. Their level of immunity is still low, as evidenced by antibody tests. And no one told them to be completely unconditional. In Sweden, there have been changes in human behavior. The flow of people in many places has not yet recovered, as evidenced by mobility data from Google. Officials regularly warn citizens that non-compliance with social distancing will lead to stricter rules. Some “screws” were still “twisted”: from a ban on visiting nursing homes to the closure of non-compliant restaurants in Stockholm. Social distancing bears fruit.
This is not a model that can be easily reproduced anywhere. Swedes are a young people, their country is sparsely populated and a large part of the population still lives a relatively isolated life, working from their own private homes. But the secret of Sweden may be consistency.
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According to Italian crisis management scientist Giuliano Di Baldassarre, who works at Uppsala University in Sweden, this is a key component in ensuring that COVID-19 policy is maintained in the long run. If the goal is to learn to live with the coronavirus until a vaccine or medication is available, permanent repeal and tightening of the rules may be counterproductive. This mode will be almost impossible to implement.
So while Italy demonstrates the benefits of caution and intervention, Sweden reminds us that the coronavirus pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint.
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