Several European countries are scrapping Covid regulations, despite the World Health Organization (WHO) urging governments to protect their people using every tool in the toolkit, according to CNBC.
Sweden lifted the majority of its remaining Covid-19 restrictions on Wednesday, following the lead of fellow Nordic nations Denmark and Norway.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week plans to end self-isolation rules for people who test positive for Covid earlier than expected.
In Sweden, social distancing requirements, the use of vaccine passports and limits on the number of people gathering in one place were lifted this week. Free testing in the country also ended on Wednesday, and the government is looking to reclassify Covid as a disease that is “not a danger to society or a threat to public health” from April 1.
In a press release last week, the Swedish government said it believed the situation was sufficiently stable to begin phasing out infection control measures. “Vaccination is the single most important weapon in the fight against Covid-19,” it added.
It comes after Denmark became the first country in the EU to lift all of its Covid restrictions on February 1, despite cases rising. Infections in the country reached record highs just a day later.
The Danish government said in a statement in January it had decided that “Covid-19 should no longer be categorized as a socially critical disease.”
Norway also lifted “a large number of Covid-19 measures” on February 1, but kept its recommendation to maintain a 1-meter distance from others and a requirement to wear a mask when this is not possible.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on February 1 that most regions of the world were experiencing a very worrying increase in deaths due to Covid, thanks to the highly transmissible omicron variant.
“More transmission means more deaths,” he told a press conference. “We are not calling for any country to return to a so-called lockdown. But we are calling on all countries to protect their people using every tool in the toolkit – not vaccines alone.”
“It’s premature for any country either to surrender or to declare victory,” Tedros added.