Weeks after suggesting officials go door to door to find the sick and place them in “dignified” isolation, a leading official from the World Health Organization (WHO) is now calling Sweden, a Scandinavian nation that has largely rejected lockdown, a “model” in handling the China-originated novel coronavirus if countries want to “reach a new normal.”
Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said Wednesday that there are “lessons to be learned” from Sweden.
“I think there’s a perception out that Sweden has not put in control measures and just has allowed the disease to spread,” Ryan told reporters, according to The New York Post. “Nothing can be further from the truth.”
“Ryan noted that instead of lockdowns, the country has ‘put in place a very strong public policy around social distancing, around caring and protecting people in long term care facilities,'” the Post noted.
“What it has done differently is it has very much relied on its relationship with its citizenry and the ability and willingness of its citizens to implement self-distancing and self-regulate,” said the WHO official. “In that sense, they have implemented public policy through that partnership with the population.”
“I think if we are to reach a new normal, Sweden represents a model if we wish to get back to a society in which we don’t have lockdowns,” added Ryan.
Sweden, rejecting lockdown, has opted for a more sustainable approach to tackling the virus, allowing lower education schools to remain open, as well as most businesses. The nation is currently seeing the a decrease in deaths, and the epidemiologist behind the approach says Sweden is a matter of a few weeks away from herd immunity, which is a side effect of the strategy, he emphasized, not the goal.
Mere weeks ago, Ryan was singing a different tune.
“In most parts of the world, due to lockdown, most of the transmission that’s actually happening in many countries now is happening in the household, at family level,” acknowledged Ryan on March 30, The Daily Wire reported at the time. “In some senses, transmission has been taken off the streets and pushed back into family units.”
“Now, we need to go and look in families to find those people who may be sick and remove them and isolate them in a safe and dignified manner,” he continued.
“That’s what I was saying previously … the transition from movement restrictions and shutdowns and stay-at-home orders can only be made if we have in place the means to be able to detect suspect cases, isolate confirmed cases, track contacts, and follow up on the contacts’ health at all times,” explained Ryan, “and then isolate any of those people who become sick themselves.”
The WHO has faced growing criticism over their handling of the virus, or “act[ing] as Beijing’s handmaid,” as one New York Post column phrased it.
“The WHO should have known at the outset that it was dealing with a bad-faith actor in Beijing,” the Post said. “Yet instead of immediately insisting upon access, openness and transparency from China, WHO leadership followed the Chinese lead and at times even took the Chinese line.”
“The very fact that truth-seekers are left counting urns is an indictment not only of the Beijing regime, but also of the WHO. To help stem the pandemic, the WHO should have been tirelessly pressing China to tell the truth,” the column argued. “Far from sounding an alarm, however, the UN outfit was impassive while Beijing stonewalled international health authorities for weeks. Indeed, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised the Chinese regime for its ‘transparency’ in the crisis. Tedros, recall, was Beijing’s candidate for WHO chief and owes his job to China’s campaign for him at the United Nations.”
“When the full history of this episode is eventually written, the Chinese Communist Party will bear massive responsibility for this plague that has swept the earth. So will a World Health Organization that seemed too interested in the health of the Chinese regime at the moment of truth,” the Post blasted the WHO.
This article has been revised for clarity.
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