Saturday 3/6/21
CORONAVIRUS

Swedish officials receive death threats for handling of the epidemic

Police protection has been extended to several leading officials at the Public Health Agency, including chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell.

FILE PHOTO: Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist of the Public Health Agency of Sweden speaks during a news conference about the daily update on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation, in Stockholm, Sweden May 27, 2020. Pontus Lundahl/TT News Agency/via REUTERS
Anders Tegnell, the state epidemiologist of the Public Health Agency of Sweden. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/via Reuters/file photo.

The fact that public health officials and researchers have received death threats and hate messages during the coronavirus pandemic is unacceptable, said Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and other leading politicians on Thursday

Police protection has been extended to several leading officials at the Public Health Agency, including chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell

The threats and hate messages were "completely unacceptable," Lofven told reporters.

He hoped there would be "legal repercussions" for those responsible, while welcoming "debate and discussion."

The leaders of the conservatives, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats also criticized the threats.

Johan Carlson, head of the Public Health Agency, told news agenty TT that Tegnell had received about 80 hate mails in December alone

Carlson said they were challenging to investigate since the threats were often anonymous. 

One sender suggested that Tegnell "was due for 40 years in prison or a life sentence." Tegnell has declined to comment, Swedish Radio reported.

A failed policy

Critics have blamed Tegnell as the architect of a failed policy to tackle the pandemic.

Sweden attracted international attention for taking a much more relaxed approach to managing the pandemic, especially early on, compared to its European neighbours

The country has gradually tightened its measures. Public gatherings are capped at eight people and the government recently prolonged a nightly ban on alcohol sales, now set to last until the end of February.

The government's powers to tackle the pandemic were recently enhanced.

It gives the government the right to order the closure of shopping malls, public transport, gyms, and cultural venues.

The country of 10.3 million had recorded roughly 627,000 infections and 12,598 coronavirus-related deaths.

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