Trump criticizes Sweden's no-lockdown stance after WHO praise, claims US made ‘correct decision’

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President Trump on Thursday took aim at Sweden’s decision to not order lockdowns in response to the coronavirus epidemic, claiming the U.S. made “the correct decision” after the World Health Organization praised the Scandinavian country’s more moderate approach.

“Despite reports to the contrary, Sweden is paying heavily for its decision not to lockdown. As of today, 2462 people have died there, a much higher number than the neighboring countries of Norway (207), Finland (206) or Denmark (443),” he tweeted. “The United States made the correct decision!”

WHO: SWEDEN WHICH AVOIDED MASS CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWNS, SHOULD BE 'MODEL' FOR THE WORLD 

Sweden has implemented a number of social distancing measures but has, by and large, kept its economy and daily life going, leaving schools, businesses and leisure activities open while closing sporting events and large gatherings. Despite warnings from experts that the strategy could have deadly consequences, the country's approach has become a talisman for lockdown skeptics who say the strategy was misguided and unnecessarily harmful.

A New York Times story on Sweden’s approach this week, filled with pictures of Swedes sipping wine in cafes and chatting (maskless) at restaurants, noted that the country’s death rate per 100,000 is about the same as Ireland’s, and better than Britain’s or France’s.

While locked down Americans and Europeans are being warned that severe restrictions could last for much longer than previously promised amid fears of a "second wave," Sweden’s ambassador to the U.S. said last week that “herd immunity” -- by which most of the population is immune from infection -- could be achieved in Stockholm by mid-May.

Those, like Trump, who criticize the approach, highlight that the number of deaths from the virus is high compared with other Scandinavian countries. But lockdown skeptics note that the original goal of the strategy was not to stop people getting infected altogether but to slow the spread of those infections in a way that doesn’t immediately overwhelm a country’s health care system. Sweden’s health care system has so far not been overwhelmed.

Because of that, the country’s approach has found support in the World Health Organization -- an agency that has typically been supportive of more aggressive approaches to combating the virus.

“I think if we are to reach a new normal, I think in many ways Sweden represents a future model of -- if we wish to get back to a society in which we don’t have lockdowns," WHO’s Dr. Mike Ryan said while speaking to reporters from Geneva on Wednesday.

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Ryan, who serves as executive director of WHO's Emergencies Program, praised Sweden's health care system and credited it with making all the right moves from the beginning of the outbreak.

"They've been doing the testing, they've ramped up their capacity to do intensive care quite significantly," he added. "And their health system has always remained within its capacity to respond to the number of cases that they've been experiencing."

Trump, however, was not impressed by the WHO’s assessment: “Really? Have you looked at the numbers lately!”

Fox News’ Nick Givas contributed to this report.