I am now in a position to share some notes on how I see Sweden and Portugal dealing with COVID 19, now considered a pandemic situation worldwide.
Being the two countries very similar it makes it interesting to compare them. What are the similarities? They have approximately the same population of 10 million and an elderly population. Portugal more densely populated than Sweden.
Arriving in Lisbon one immediately notices that here in Portugal people are wearing masks in all public places. This you do not see in Sweden and I have even noticed that when I have worn a mask people have signaled by their behavior that they could suspect that I could be contaminated.
why then this difference in attitude and what might come out of it? Comparing figures today 1st July it seems that Portugal so far has a better record than Sweden. Here are today’s figures.
Portugal : Contaminated 42141, deceased 1576 and on intensiv care 73
Sweden: Contaminated 69692, decease 5370 and on intensive care 136.
The mentality of the citizens in both countries obviously vary considerably. Sweden seems to be aiming at reaching group immunity while In Portugal the main concern seems to be getting as few people infected as possible. In order to achieve this the State through government and president have constantly appealed to responsible behaviour. But the shut down of economy has been quite dramatic and It has obviously caused the economy to suffer more than in Sweden. In Portugal the laws change according to what is considered necessary. People here seem to be used to laws and regulations from above.
in Sweden on the other hand the authorities that work under the State give recommendations to the citizens as to how each and everyone should be responsible to deal socially with the situation. This strategy seems to have hit immigrants i Sweden quite hard. Their situation of relative isolation has proven to have serious consequences for this group. Portugal has also a similar problem having a lower standard of living with many people defenseless in coping with the contamination.
I would not venture today to say what the final outcome will be even if many premature conclusions are being take right, left and center.
What seems to be common to the people in both countries is the psychological toll it is taking where many people live terrified and cannot find balance based on statistics and facts that they should need to interpret better the real situation.