Coronavirus: the nordic countries, very rare islands with no mask in the world

Coronavirus: les pays nordiques, très rares îlots sans masque dans le monde

Stockholm | Even Donald Trump has finished with the thread, and its use is becoming more common throughout the world: and yet the authorities of the nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland), as well as their more than 25 million inhabitants, continue to the hour to shun the mask to combat the pandemic of Covid-19.

In the streets of Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo or Helsinki, or even in the supermarkets, offices, buses, and subways, hard to find carriers of masks, which are restricted to a tiny minority, often tourists.

According to a recent opinion poll Yougov, only 5 to 10% of the respondents in the nordic countries say they use a mask against the Covid-19 in public places, a proportion that has remained completely stable since the beginning of the crisis in march. At the same time, the share of users flew beyond 70 or even 80% in twenty other countries tracked by the survey institute, from India to the United States through France.

“I have the impression that if the government does not say clearly +we recommend that you wear a mask+, nobody will do it,” says Camille Fornaroli, a French student of 21 years shocked to see so few masks in Stockholm, including the metro.

– Follow the instructions-For Birgitta Wedel, a retired 63-year-old, “it would be good if the Swedish authorities advised the wearing of the mask, at least in the transport sector. But I will not if I am the only one, I expect that the authorities take a formal decision”.

“The Swedes take their responsibilities,” says Marten Sporrong, a businessman of 50 years, in spite of the epidemic is still very active in Stockholm. “But we follow the government recommendations, if they tell us that we don’t need to wear a mask, we will not,” he told AFP.

The Face of coronavirus, Sweden had chosen a strategy less strict, which has left its neighbours, sceptical of its balance sheet (more than 80,000 cases and 5,700 deaths). But in the refusal to recommend the wearing of masks, the nordic countries have been unanimous, even if the questions emerging in recent days.

“Outside of Sweden, there have been very few cases in these countries. So I don’t throw the stone, as long as they have had a social distancing reasonable and that the tracing of the case is done properly. But it would be a good thing to do”, explains to the AFP KK Cheng, an epidemiologist at the Institute of applied health research Birmingham.

Questioned Tuesday on what could make it change its mind, the epidemiologist-in-chief Swedish, Anders Tegnell, replied that he was still waiting for “a form of evidence that they are effective”.

Not enough evidence of effectiveness? “This is absolutely false, it is irresponsible, and stubborn”, if that annoys Mr. Cheng. “If those who think like him are wrong, it costs lives. But if me I am wrong, what damage is this done?”, argues that partisan of a mask.


In Denmark, the health authority has tentatively recommended the mask at the beginning of July after a notice of the WHO. But in very limited circumstances, including when we will get tested at the hospital or in the transport of return to a risk zone.

“At the present time, the mask has no meaning”, was held on Tuesday, the director of Sundhedsstyrelsen, Soren Brostrom. “But over the longer term is that this may be useful in the transport or other? Of course, you must evaluate it”, he said to Danish television DR.

Same line in Norway or in Finland: no opposition of principle, assure-t-on. “Currently, we are in a very fortunate situation ( … ), But it may be something that you should consider in the near future if the contamination increases”, said to AFP, Are Stuwitz Berg, physician to the health authority, Norwegian FHI.

“The question might arise in the fall when people return from holiday”, for his part, explained Mika Salminen, head of the authority, finland THL.

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