SWEDEN’S top coronavirus doctor has said it’s ‘very natural’ that the country had cases of the killer flu as early as November.
The comments follow news a French man had recently tested positive for Covid-19 after a flu he had in December, throwing Europe’s entire virus timeline into chaos.
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State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was unphased about the fact travellers from Wuhan likely brought the virus into the country before the pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe.
He said: “There wasn’t any spread [of infection] outside Wuhan until we saw it in Europe later.
“But I think that you could find individual cases among Wuhan travellers who were there in November to December last year. That doesn’t sound at all strange, but rather very natural.”
The Scandinavian country has taken a markedly different approach from the rest of Europe, being one of the only countries that hasn’t imposed a lockdown.
Swedes are asked to wash their hands and exercise social distancing, but it’s not enforced.
Bars and pubs remain open, but visitors to carehomes are banned.
Sweden’s strategy has not been to stop the virus but to slow the spread enough for the healthcare system to cope.
Rather than bringing in bans, it has instead relied on voluntary measures.
But Mr Tegnell has admitted he’s not convinced about the country’s ultra-relaxed attitude.
He said the public health agency was constantly assessing what could be done “better and what else can we add on”.
He later admitted, however: “[Lockdown] is not something that’s being discussed in a structured way.
“At the moment it feels like we don’t want to burden the healthcare sector with this type of investigation. They have a lot of other things to do, and this would not lead to any measure.”
The top virologist instead suggested gaining a deeper understanding of the virus’s early spread in China, and how it “jumped” from what is thought to have been a bat, to humans.
He said: “There aren’t many instances where we have been able to track a contagion of a completely new virus from animals to humans. We don’t have much knowledge of how this happens in reality.”
EUROPE TIMELINE CHAOS
The killer bug’s true origins continue to baffle scientists as health officials desperately try to piece together how the virus came about.
It was reveled today how a French man who thought he had a bad case of flu in December has since been confirmed as one of France’s first coronavirus cases after samples taken from him were re-tested.
Amirouche Hammar, 43, whose symptoms left doctors baffled at the time, came forward after a hospital near Paris said it had found a case of the virus in a sample taken on December 27.
But since the 43-year-old had no contact with China, scientists are now theorising he may have caught the bug from his wife, who works at a fish counter in a supermarket close to Charles de Gaulle airport.
It’s thought perhaps Mr Hammar’s wife could have picked up the virus from a Wuhan traveller and passed it onto her husband, who became very ill.
He has since recovered – but was hospitalised at the time.
The revelations throw Europe’s virus timeline into chaos as top docs desperately try to piece together transmission from China to every single corner of the globe, including Europe.
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The continent is home to the four worst-affected countries in the world – Italy, France, the UK and Spain.
Sweden itself has seen 23,000 cases of coronavirus and nearly 2,800 deaths.
But experts warn the country’s relaxed attitude and lack of testing make it difficult to completely get to grips with the spread there.