BY RAJPAL ABEYNAYAKE
There is chaos in the world now and the way each Government wants to handle this chaos is different. However, countries that have real crisis management are in many ways the ones which avoided the mess caused by Covid-19.
But the most interesting example, is not that of Haiti or Afghanistan — I’m joking — but Sweden.
The purpose of this article is to say we have to take more than a leaf from Sweden’s book when parts of our country are going through this entirely ludicrous phase of self-lockdown.
Those who are so-called self-locking-down by closing shops and so on of their own volition in certain towns these days, are nincompoops. They are idiots of a special variety.
Talking about Sweden would probably get this message across in the best way that would expose such lockdown maniacs.
This year’s Global Soft Power Index which asked respondents how they rated each country’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, rates Sweden at a fantastic number 13 in a list of all the world’s countries.
Sweden was, initially in particular, extremely controversial in its Covid-19 response. It’s a nation that scoffed at the lockdown consensus and from the very outset had very relaxed rules pertaining to Covid-19. Think about it.
While most of the world locked down in varying degrees of severity, Sweden never did that and pursued herd immunity instead from the very outset in 2020, when Covid-19 vaccines were not even heard of.
Mind you Sweden comes 8th in the World Soft Power Index, and is furthermore placed 13th, which is excellent, specifically for effective Covid-19 management.
Sweden’s pandemic response can best be described overall as “soft.” There were no heavy handed measures at all, because Sweden’s Constitution in the first place prohibits declaring an emergency for a pandemic or a health crisis. “Swedish authorities made it clear that managing the Covid-19 pandemic would not be a sprint but a marathon—a long-term undertaking.
Thus, policies need to be designed on a level that is acceptable to the people over a long period of time,” writes a researcher with Sage Publications.
So contrast the Swedish approach with the mania that some people here have for locking down and calling for a “self-lockdown” of shops in various towns.
Just digest this — during these two years of Covid-19, Sweden never once closed bars, restaurants, gyms and so on. There were no restrictions whatsoever on personal mobility. Think about that.
Never in the last two years when the world was going crazy over Covid-19, did Sweden impose any restrictions on civil liberties or the ability of people to move from one location to another, within the country.
Instead the country relied on “soft” everyday voluntary measures such as appropriate social distancing and so on.
However, these Scandinavians fared so well that it’s now clear the world admires Sweden — with the country being perceived as the 13th best in the world in containing Covid-19, which needless to say is a very high rank in any type of global index.
This is why we must throw Sweden at all the JVP type con artistes such as Harini whoever, the Jenny come lately who when the teachers were marching said that provincial travel restrictions were in place in order to curtail protests — but claims now that the Government is responsible for every Covid-19 death that occurs, suggesting that the country be locked down.
The JVP keeps screaming for lockdowns and supports these so called new tendency “self- lockdowns” of cities.
14000, people died of Covid-19 in Sweden since the pandemic began in 2020, according to statistics. That’s much more than the 5000 plus to date in Sri Lanka, but yet the Swedish are estimated to have the 13th best crisis response to Covid-19.
Why so? It’s because the country did not descend into chaos by restricting civil liberties. Out of a 10 million plus population the Swedes basically considered the 14000 or so Covid-19 deaths as par for the course, because it’s still a very minute percentage of the overall population numbers.
But not locking down the country has earned respect for the unconventional Scandinavians particularly for the calm sense of self-assurance the policies engendered.
After all this is not just me, the author of this article, saying the Swedish were cool about Covid-19. The entire world thinks Sweden had one of the best responses to Covid-19. Think about that.
It serves as an object lesson to maniacs here who don’t tire of screaming “lost human lives are not worth a functioning economy,” and absolute mindless poppycock of that sort.
Covid-19 was a balancing act for the Swedes. Nobody lost their sense of equilibrium in other words in the country, because the rulers didn’t lose their heads just because the rest of the world was losing theirs.
The country fared better than all EU nations in the duration of the pandemic economically, so think about that too. That was of course precisely because of Sweden’s relaxed anti-lockdown pro civil liberties approach to containing the virus.
Someone could point to New Zealand and say Jacinda Arden the premier locked-down the country this week because of a single case in Auckland.
That’s good for New Zealand. Even if it sounds futile as a counter measure, it’s quite okay for the country because the economy can withstand it.
However, the Swedish economy did WellPoint with not a single lockdown at all, and which of these countries should not-so-rich Sri Lanka follow in this context?
No prizes for guessing. All this self-lockdown hysteria is so utterly, transparently self-serving. If a Government such as that of Sweden never locked down and can be admired globally as the 13th best global performer with regard to Covid-19, the screaming panic mongers here should not get their undies in a twist over mortality statistics that are still far lower than Sweden’s.
Think about that too. We have done better so far than Sweden in terms of the numbers — the death count from Covid-19 — but our pundits think we can’t follow the 13th best nation by shunning lockdown. Not just that, they can’t stop talking of Covid-19.
These pundits have to be told where they need to get off. If various actors are trying to panic the masses over the so called “bad Covid-19 situation,” you could throw Sweden, a developed industrialised country at them anytime.
It’s repeated — if the Swedes are the 13th most admired in the world for tackling Covid-19, with 14000, deaths so far from the virus, why is Sri Lanka panicking with just over 5000 Covid-19 deaths in a population of 22 million?
The problem is that we are allowing the people to be panicked. Sweden never allowed every Tom Dick and Harriet to panic the people and go on saying “hey what a massive crisis we are in”.
In any case, they never locked down, so a lockdown mindset was out of the question, and naturally the people became too busy to think about Covid-19.
Is saying we should be like Sweden a case of being insensitive to the fact that people do fall ill from the virus in this country, with some dying? Yes they do fall sick and some never recover, but it’s still something that can be handled if the proper attention is paid to home care and so on.
It’s how Sweden handled the crisis — at least partly. But in Sweden they didn’t feel as if it’s a crisis at all, whereas our media and social media spaces are full of it.
Sweden is perceived to be 13th the world over in terms of responding well to the Covid-19 crisis, to say that once more for good effect.
14000, people are said to have died there of Covid-19 since the pandemic began but they didn’t go catatonic over it. They didn’t imprison themselves on top of everything by locking down and imprisoning their minds too thinking 24/7 about the virus.
They didn’t let this thing rule every aspect of their lives — and repeat, as a result they are the best performing economy in the EU.
Other European countries have similar death counts too but they came close to crashing their economies.
Anyhow, it takes a long time and a lot of doing for a European economy to crash. Not so here in South Asia.
That’s what those lockdown maniacs and other panicking Jack-in-the-box types should think about before they shoot their mouths off and make life difficult for everybody.