Sweden coronavirus press conference, March 31, 2020

On this day, there were 716,000 cases worldwide. There were 4435 cases total in Sweden, and 358 people in intensive care. 180 dead.

This time, the press conference started off with politicians.

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Isabella Lövin of Sweden

Do you see her? Her name is Isabella Lövin, and she is the vice-Prime Minister. I have taken two selfies with her over the years. It was very exciting.

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Stefan Löfven of Sweden

And that man is the Prime Minister. I have seen him. I wrote about it here. I maybe was over-excited when I wrote that. I seemed to be very fond of him.

The politicians did a lot of talking, but mostly what they said was: on Easter, don’t go around distributing candy, that will have to wait. And no more visits to your parents or grandparents in retirement homes.

Oh, and that there will be more testing in Sweden. Testing will continue to be prioritized for old people and for medical people, but also now extended to other people who perform critical jobs (police, ambulances). But no, not everyone who wants a test will get one. Right now, about 10,000 tests are being done a week, and they want to get up to 20,000 to 30,000.

Question from the journalists: have we been testing too little, too slow?

Prime Minister: No, we’re testing as much as our neighboring countries, and we keep testing more and more.

Later, there was an individual interview with Isabella Lövin:

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Isabella Lövin

Correspondent: Why did you decide to make the rule prohibiting visits to retirement homes?

Isabella Lövin: some homes had already made this decision, others had not; and we wanted to have one clear rule for everyone, so that there will be no doubt, and so the head of the retirement doesn’t have to try to justify it themselves, but can just say, sorry! No visitors! Rules are rules!

Correspondent: Does this mean people can’t see their parents as they’re dying?

Isabella Lövin: there can be exceptions, but that’s up to the local chief.

Correspondent: you are asking people to stay home over the Easter break, but there’s no harder measures. Why not, for example, shut down ferries going to islands?

Isabella Lövin: It’s very important to follow the Public Health Authority recommendations. And we will take stricter measures if we need to.

Then it was back to the studio, where this self-satisfied analyst started summarizing:

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Mats Knudson

Mats Knudson: no, they’ve decided not to close the ferries to the islands; they’re going to trust that people will do what authorities tell them to do. So Easter will be sort of like a test to see if people listen or not.

By the way, Hiba Daniel was again the main newscaster that he was talking to:

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Hiba Daniel

Then it was time to leave the studio, because a second press conference was starting: this one with the people from the Public Health. Anders Tegnell wasn’t there today, instead, the vice National Epidemiologist stepped in. His name is also Anders.

Like Anders Tegnell, Anders Wallensten starts off by mentioning, oh, by the way, cases are increasing rapidly in the US.

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Anders Wallensten

This is what the graphs of the day look like:

The graph for the number of deaths by day is on the left, and number of cases per day on the right.

This this guy talked about something important: misinformation and propaganda with coronavirus.

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He said: Our job is to inform people about the correct things. But today, instead of informing, I want to talk about recognizing and confronting propaganda that’s coming from outside directed towards Sweden. Things that foreign entities are doing towards us. What we see right now is that a whole lot of distorted information is coming in — distorted information about the management of coronavirus in Sweden. Some things that are being said:

— that coronavirus is a form of biological warfare
— that it is not dangerous and the government is overreacting
— that Sweden is not doing anything at all about coronavirus (which, he then adds, you see is absolutely not true, motioning to the three other speakers on the podiums standing next to him)

He continues: Right now, there’s a lot of worry among us, and when people are worried, it makes them more vulnerable to these types of propaganda campaigns. So what we’re doing is trying to analyze these threatening propaganda-actors, figure out what they’re doing, and when they activate their resources against us. And then he lists some other things (kind of vague) that they’re trying to do to protect against the misinformation.

He continues: that’s what we’re doing. But what can you do? It maybe sounds like a broken record, but I have to say it anyways: think critically about news you read. Can you confirm the source? Where is the information coming from? What’s the goal of the people spreading it? If you see something suspicious, then don’t share it. Don’t let anyone steer you; it’s you that holds the truth (I maybe translated that wrong).

Then it was time for questions:

Here’s a picture of Anders Wallensten looking slightly perplexed at one of the questions:

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The same German journalist from the day before asked: Denmark yesterday said that they’re going to keep everyone locked inside till Easter, and then maybe think about loosening the restrictions. And the numbers in Sweden are going up. So are you all still sure that your measures are the correct strategy with your more liberal coronavirus policies?

Anders Wallensten: We believe that what we’re doing is correct right now. I don’t say that we won’t adopt new restrictions later if the situation changes, but the increases in coronavirus cases that we see is expected. Denmark knows best what to do for Denmark. But what we see here so far is a rate of increase that is not super steep.

German journalist again: Anders Tegnell said the other day (Tegnell is I think Wallensten’s boss of sorts) that in Sweden there is a pretty stable situation. Do you still think that’s true?

Anders Wallensten: It depends on which of the numbers you look at. We see an increase in cases. That increase is constant, day by day. It’s not shooting up.

So the press conference ended, and then it was time for individual interviews. They did an interview with this lady, who was one of the speakers. They asked her: there’s 3 doctors and 2 nurses that are in the intensive care with coronavirus. What can you comment about that?

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And what did she say? She kind of blamed the poor doctors and nurses. She said, well, it’s all very sad, but it’s up to every medical staffer to use the protective equipment they have properly! And she repeated that a couple of times. Yikes.

They also did an individual interview with Anders Wallensten, but they dragged him outside for that, and it looks cold:

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Anders Wallensten

Then it was back to the studio, and Hiba Daniel was leading the discussion again. Mats Knudson had disappeared, and Iva Horvatovich was back.

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Iva Horvatovic

They talked again about the misinformation campaigns directed towards Sweden. Iva summarized as follows: there’s lots of talk that Sweden isn’t doing anything, that Sweden is taking it very easy. And Sweden’s strategy has raised a lot of notice. In the established media, it has been said simply that Sweden is going its own way. But on social media, it’s a different story with a lot of misinformation.

Finally, and I’m sorry to do this, but I would be remiss if I didn’t show Hiba Daniel’s little grin when bringing up the out-of-control situation in the US:

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