Last Thursday, the Swedish government has announced that the testing used to diagnose SARS-CoV-2, or the virus responsible for causing the coronavirus infection would be free of cost for all people who have displayed any of the disease’s symptoms such as dry cough, sneezing, sore throat, high fever, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems.
The statement was released soon after the ban on domestic travel within the country was lifted. After staying under for restrictions for the prevention of coronavirus infection for several weeks and limitations on traveling anywhere via any means of transport for a time period of three months on, people in Sweden will not finally be able to meet relatives or even head home.
In accordance with sources, the step of free testing for all taken by the Swedish government is primarily to control the infection and encourage people to get tested as soon as they experience early symptoms of COVID-19, which can, in turn, help people get medical attention before they transmit the virus and infect more people.
Sweden, unlike its other neighbors, did not impose an economic lockdown in the country even though there were several spikes in the number of cases of the coronavirus infection reported at the beginning of March and April in the country.
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However, in comparison with many other countries that have been severely impacted by the infection, the Swedish government has taken other measures to stop the further spread of the infection.
Till now, health authorities in the country have confirmed nearly forty-two thousand cases of coronavirus in Sweden along with four thousand and five hundred deaths.
The new program for free testing can hopefully help reduce the chances of new cases of the infection. To make the program successful, the Swedish government has announced that it will be giving nearly 5.9 million Swedish kronor, which is approximately six hundred and forty million US dollars along with the previously promised one billion kronor for the purpose of tracing of new cases as well as testing.
Per Bolund, who is the Minister for Financial Markets in Sweden, said in a recent statement that “From now on, everyone with symptoms will be able to test themselves for COVID-19 free of cost,”
In addition to being free of cost, the testing including both serological tests for diagnosis of previous infectious diseases and tests for active infections will also be made more accessible so that people are easily able to get a screening from any part of the country.
The good news has been announced right after the government eased travel restrictions within the country for people without any symptoms of coronavirus infection. However, there is still an emphasis on following guidelines from health agencies for the prevention of coronavirus infection.
Although people will be allowed to travel from the thirteenth of June, they still have to follow all safety instructions regardless of what means of transport they are using.
Read WHO’s guidelines for coronavirus here.
The Prime minister of Sweden, Stefan Lofven, has stated that “The situation is still serious. This announcement doesn’t mean that the danger has passed. It doesn’t mean life returns to normal,”
Since the beginning of the coronavirus in Sweden, the country has announced several restrictions but none of them were ‘legally binding’, which is why the government’s handling of the infection has received backlash.
Additionally, the government’s inability to impose stricter restrictions and control the coronavirus spread has also been deemed as the primary reason why Sweden has the highest death toll in comparison with its neighboring countries.
Anders Tegnell, who is a state epidemiologist has also added that the government’s approach needs to be improved in the past few days, further adding that stricter restrictions may help in controlling death toll.