Giving credence to the freedom championed by conservatives rather than the safety defended by liberals globally, Sweden continues a downward trend of COVID-19 cases after a much-debated approach kept large parts of society open during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The curves go down, and the curves over the seriously ill begin to be very close to zero. As a whole, it is very positive," Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said.
While coronavirus cases increase in Europe, Sweden, which had called for its people to take personal responsibility instead of ordering government-mandated lockdowns, on Tuesday reported just two new deaths, bringing the confirmed toll to 5,702.
“With numbers diminishing very quickly in Sweden, we see no point in wearing a face mask in Sweden, not even on public transport,” Tegnell said.
Swedish officials declined to implement strict lockdown measures widely adopted in Europe. Large gatherings were banned, but restaurants and schools for young children have stayed open. The Swedish government has urged social distancing, and citizens have largely complied.
"We've actually seen a clearly declining trend in the number of patients in intensive care and also in the number of deaths since the middle of April," said Anna Mia Ekström, clinical professor of global infectious disease epidemiology at Stockholm’s Karolinksa Institute.
There have been nearly 80,000 cases in the country of 10 million people.
"Now we see one or two deaths a day and very few persons admitted to ICU (intensive care units)," added Jan Albert, a professor of infectious disease control at the Karolinska Institute.
"We are much better off now than we were in April," he told Euronews.
Albert acknowledged that medical professionals are working in uncharted territory with the virus.
He concluded: "We know that we've had more cases in Sweden than for instance in Norway and Denmark and Finland, our neighboring countries, many more. But whether that means that we are on our way to herd immunity is a big unknown."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.