Sweden's rise in coronavirus cases was due to increased testing, a top Swedish health official said on Friday in response to a risk warning from the World Health Organization's (WHO) European regional office.
"Unfortunately it is a misinterpretation of the data," said Anders Tegnell, epidemiologist with the Public Health Agency.
"We find a rising number of cases in Sweden because we test a lot more than before," he told Swedish public broadcaster SVT's morning show.
Tegnell also noted there had been a decline in intensive care cases and hospital admissions.
He said it was "unfortunate that people are confusing Sweden with countries that have not had any problems and are obviously at the beginning of their epidemic."
Increases over the past 2 weeks
The WHO warning was issued on Thursday by Hans Kluge, head of the Copenhagen-based agency that groups 53 countries, noting 30 countries had increases over the past two weeks.
Kluge noted that 11 countries, including Armenia, Albania, and Ukraine, had "accelerated transmission... that if left unchecked will push health systems to the brink once again."
Tegnell said the WHO office had not been in touch with his agency to get "a more nuanced picture" of the health care situation in Sweden.
Less stringent measures
Tegnell has been a lead spokesperson for the Swedish virus strategy. Sweden has adopted less stringent measures to contain the virus than elsewhere.
People have been urged to refrain from travel, to maintain social distancing and to stay home if they are elderly or have minor symptoms. Public gatherings are limited to 50 people.
The Public Health Agency had by Thursday recorded 5,230 coronavirus-related deaths and about 63,900 infections.