Open letter to the World Health Organization about the Covid19 strategy in Sweden

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Dear professionals at the World Health Organization,

We, a group of desperate citizens in Sweden, write to you as a cry for help during this Covid19 pandemic.
In your website we can read the following “Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities. Why? Local and national authorities are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.” What should we do in Sweden, since the national authorities have openly discarded the advice and science coming from the WHO?

The WHO recommends: “If you do not have symptoms, but have been exposed to an infected person, self-quarantine for 14 days.” In Sweden, since the very beginning of the pandemic, the National Health Authorities, backed up by the Government, have recommended people to live their lives as normal (applying the few recommendations we do have in place) if they have been in contact with someone infected, as long as they themselves don’t show symptoms. If a person lives with a confirmed patient infected with Covid19, that person is expected to work or go to school as normal. What if that person works with people who belong to special risk groups for Covid19, like elderly people? The same guidelines apply. If I work in a elderly care home and my husband is lying at home with confirmed Covid19, I have no right nor an obligation to stay at home and isolate, up until the point that I myself show symptoms. Which advice should we follow?

The WHO states: “Self-isolation is an important measure taken by those who have COVID-19 symptoms to avoid infecting others in the community. Isolate for 14 days, even if you feel healthy”. In Sweden, people who experience symptoms of Covid19 are recommended to isolate while they show symptoms, plus during two symptom free days. The Public Health Authorities in Sweden claim that people can go back to work even if they have a dry cough, if a period of 7 days has passed since they have become sick and if they have been without the other symptoms for 2 days. Which advice should we follow?

The WHO states: “Research indicates that children and adolescents are just as likely to become infected as any other age group and can spread the disease. Evidence to date suggests that children and young adults are less likely to get severe disease, but severe cases can still happen in these age groups.” The Swedish Public Health Authorities claim that children are not the ones driving this pandemic, plus that no children are at a risk group for Covid19, even if they have pre-existing health conditions which would put an adult at an extraordinary risk for complications due to Covid19. Who should we believe?

The WHO states: “For areas of widespread transmission, with limited capacity for implementing control measures and especially in settings where physical distancing of at least 1 metre is not possible – such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments – WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks.” Not only did the Government fail to encourage the general public to use any kind of masks in public places where physical distancing is hard to guarantee, the swedish Public Health Authorities have demonized the use of masks, claiming that they are uncomfortable and do more harm than good by causing people to constantly touch their faces. Who should we listen to?

About the use of medical masks, the WHO states: “Anyone who is sick, even with mild symptoms such as muscle aches, slight cough, sore throat or fatigue, should isolate at home and use a medical mask. Sick people needing to go to a health facility should wear a medical mask.” and “people 60 years old and over or anyone with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, or cancer) should wear a medical mask for protection because they are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill with the disease and dying.”. In Sweden, no one in the general public is required of even recommended to wear a mask. Some people take their own precautions and wear masks anyway, when they suspect that they have Covid19 or if they have had contact with someone who is infected, but many people follow the assumptions of the National Health Authorities about masks and consider them to be useless or even dangerous. Should we really listen to the swedish Authorities when it comes to this?

We all watched with hope when the WHO Director-General said “You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case”. With such clear advice from prominent experts from the WHO we all expected Sweden to step up their game and test people who were suspected to have Covid19, like those coming from areas with large outbreaks of the disease and those who had been in contact with confirmed cases. But the testing, testing, testing didn’t happen - the Swedish Health Authorities see no point in testing just for the sake of testing. And in that point we have to agree with them: there is no point in testing just for the sake of testing, we have to test to be able to contact trace and stop this virus from spreading. But how can a country practice contact tracing when there are guidelines in place like the ones explained above?

This pandemic is difficult for most people and brings up a lot of questions that are often left unanswered. We look up to the WHO for help and guidance during these troubled times. The lives of many people are currently at risk and many lives were already lost, so there is no time to lose when it comes to adopting good practices and trying as hard as humanly possible to protect the health and lives of the populations in all countries affected by the Covid19 pandemic.

Best regards,
Save Sweden Covid19 and all the concerned citizens who signed under