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Sweden didn’t protect aged: commission

Sweden has failed to protect elderly people in care homes and other long-term care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic, a government-appointed commission has concluded.

Factors that contributed to the failure were the widespread transmission of the virus, as well as “structural shortcomings that have been well-known for a long time”.

“These shortcomings have led to residential care being unprepared and ill-equipped to handle a pandemic,” the report said.

Shortcomings included lack of proper protective equipment for personnel, delays in testing and introducing bans on visits.

A weakness highlighted in the report was “fragmentation” in the Swedish health and care systems.

Care for the elderly is divided between 21 regions and 290 municipalities, many private providers and is supervised by central government agencies.

Improving staffing levels, training and working conditions for healthcare workers were needed, along with an improved regulatory framework, the report said.

The commission summed up that the “ultimate responsibility for these shortcomings rests with the government in power – and with the previous governments”.

Sweden has according to the Public Health Agency’s latest figures recorded about 341,00 infections and more than 7600 virus-related deaths in total.

According to the commission, almost 90 per cent of the fatalities were – as of early December – aged 70 or more and half of them were in long-term residential care.

The eight-strong commission is chaired by Mats Melin, a former top judge.

Other members include political scientists, crisis management and public health experts.

Tuesday’s report was the first since the commission was appointed in June.

The main report is due in February 2022, ahead of a general election scheduled in September of that year.

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