Although the spread of the novel coronavirus in increasing, Swedish health officials are balking at mandates requiring them in some public spaces, according to reports.
“We don’t see that we are at a point where we might recommend general use of face masks on public transport,” Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of the Public Health Agency in Stockholm, told reporters on Thursday, according to Bloomberg. “Face masks shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to keep a distance.”
The stance directly conflicts with a statement by The Swedish Academy of Sciences issued the same day.
The experts said adequate ventilation and face masks are “important measures” to tamp down virus spread indoors and on public transport.
Staffan Normark, professor of microbiology and chairman of the expert group, cited new evidence that face masks lower the risk of airborne infection, or in other words, when tiny, virus-laden particles remain suspended in the air with potential for infection if inhaled.
“It is equally important to follow the recommendations made by the Swedish Public Health Agency,” the statement continues. “But in order to quickly reduce the infection, we need to use all the tools in the toolbox, and that includes [face] protection and ventilation.”
There have been 201,055 total infections in Sweden and more than 6,300 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University which ahs been tracking infections global infections and deaths. During the past month, Sweden has recorded more than 94,000 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins.
As much of the world sputtered to a standstill as the novel coronavirus took hold in early Spring, Sweden controversially adopted a different approach in a bid to balance the health crisis with salvaging its economy.
The country's government "departed from the prevailing wisdom" and did not impose widespread lockdowns, did not close schools and restaurants and did not restrict people's movements, Doug Badger, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told Fox News.
The government’s approach also centered on empowering its citizens to adopt sensible practices to evade the superspreader, issuing advice – as opposed to decrees – on issues such as social distancing and limiting mass gatherings. Schools never fully closed, staying open for those under the age of 16, and gyms, bars, and restaurants remained open.
Fox News’ Hollie McKay contributed to this report.