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The Odd One Out — Sweden

COVID-19 hit us during the winter, and as we waited anxiously for the government-issued order for schools to shut down, the virus began infecting the rest of the world. With no specific restrictions from our prime minister, my school shipped my grade off for our annual school trip. In hindsight, the most worrisome part was that no one seemed to worry. After our arrival, I released a breath I hadn't known that I was holding in; two days later, the Oslo airport closed.


The Monday following our return, there were four empty chairs in our classroom. The four students from the British, American, and Finnish embassies were gone.


Since I attend an international school, extra precautions were essential to supporting the many diplomat children's remote learning and to respecting the various opinions of the international parents.


Many children weren’t allowed out in fear of contaminating their entire embassy. Within a few weeks there were only four of us left in the whole grade.


People were still out and about. It terrified me that the Swedish government was so passive, I felt they were doing it all wrong. However, as the next few months flew by, I noticed that despite having strict rules, all Swedes followed government recommendations. They stood further apart, washed their hands frequently, and some wore masks.


A strange phenomenon, that my mother told me about, with Sweden is that Swedes truly take recommendations from the government as rules that have to be followed.


This is a country with great self-discipline, and even if it is hard to tell whether our approach was best, one can’t forgo the fact that our death rates are under 6,000. This is also dependent on the fact that we count every death of a senior as COVID-19-related and that we have been an open society. Overall, our sickness rate has followed the rest of the world's and now an estimated 20% of Stockholm has developed antibodies. How is this so, one might ask.


Well, we have built numerous field hospitals for the sole purpose of treating people with COVID-19. The doctors are on call throughout the day and medical care is upgraded to maximum efficiency.


The only real difference between Sweden and other countries is our steadfast economy throughout this pandemic, which has helped people stay calm and continue living their lives, something I feel is very important in such times. Overall, I went from hating our tactics to actually agreeing with them. The second wave still might hit and of course I am worried, but we are still in the calm of our first wave and are starting to build up herd immunity. We are all in a horrendous situation, I just feel that Sweden doesn't have it as bad as other countries.


— Lara Bonnier, 15

Stockholm, Sweden



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