Sweden's death toll skyrockets
Sweden now has the highest coronavirus death rate in the world per capita over the last week after continuing to shun lockdown.
The government has insisted that its softer approach to dealing with the pandemic will pay off in the long run as restaurants, bars and businesses remain open.
But over the last seven days, Sweden had an average of 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants - more than any other country in the world.
This is in comparison to 5.57 in the UK, 4.28 in Belgium, 4.11 in the US, 2.62 in Spain, 2.29 in Italy, and 2.26 in France.
Many of these other countries saw far more virus deaths earlier in the pandemic, but managed to bring down the numbers with strict lockdown measures.
Sweden has the eighth highest overall per capita death toll in the world - when these earlier deaths are included as well, Worldometer stats say.
But the country has leapfrogged all others in the latest figures - counting deaths from May 13 to May 20 - according to Our World in Data, an online research site based in Oxford.
Sweden has been criticised for its relaxed handling of the virus after it kept schools, restaurants, bars and shops open. Rather than bringing in bans, it has instead relied on voluntary measures, emphasising social distancing and good hygiene.
People have been given the choice to work from home but it is not mandatory.
Crowds were seen flocking to Stockholm's waterfront in recent weeks, with some people sipping cocktails in the sun in close proximity to each other.
Swedish PM Stefan Lofven has insisted that the country's strategy will pay off in the long run - despite signs the disease is persisting as it begins to die out on the rest of the continent.
He says Swedes will suffer less, both economically and socially, adding: "This fight against COVID-19 is a marathon."
Sweden had its deadliest month in almost three decades in April, according to statistics.
A total of 10,458 deaths were recorded in the country which has a population of 10.3 million people.
Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter, Sweden's ambassador to the US, branded the country's number of elderly deaths due to COVID-19 a "big failure".
But the country's top virologist Anders Tegnell said on Monday: "The curves look to be slowly but surely pointing downwards, but there is still a lot of strain on all parts of the healthcare sector.
"He had previously admitted he was "not convinced" by the country's ultra-relaxed attitude to a coronavirus lockdown.
Earlier this month he said Sweden may have to change its controversial approach during the killer pandemic.
Meanwhile, other Nordic countries have been reluctant to let Sweden join their proposed "travel bubble".
Maria Ohisalo, the Finnish interior minister said: "Norway, Denmark and Iceland have managed to stabilise their situation, but in Sweden the situation is more alarming."
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission