Sweden has recorded more than 1000 COVID-19-related fatalities, the Public Health Agency says.
A reason for many of the deaths in the country of almost 10.3 million was that the coronavirus has entered care homes for the elderly, said Anders Tegnell, epidemiologist with the Swedish Public Health Agency.
"It is obvious that they are an environment that is sensitive to the infection, and that means that when you get the infection into that age group you get many deaths," he said.
As of Tuesday, the agency had recorded 11,445 coronavirus cases and 1033 fatalities.
The cause for why the infection had spread to care homes, notably in Stockholm, was not apparent.
Neighbouring Norway, which has introduced stricter measures than Sweden, including closing schools and kindergartens, has reported 138 COVID-19 deaths and about 6600 novel coronavirus cases.
Tegnell said it was difficult to compare different countries and regions since the pandemic was at different stages.
He noted that Belgium, which has about the same number of inhabitants, has reported more than 4000 coronavirus-related deaths.
Earlier on Tuesday, 22 Swedish-based researchers criticised the Public Health Agency's approach, and urged politicians to intervene with "swift and radical measures".
Schools and restaurants should be shut and all health staff that work with the elderly should have proper protective equipment, and mass testing of health personnel for the virus should be introduced, they said in an op-ed piece in Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter.
Asked to comment, Tegnell said he rejected the claim that the agency lacked a comprehensive strategy.
The critics had also not taken into account that for instance Italy registers hospital deaths while Sweden's numbers include deaths in care homes.
Australian Associated Press