Cover image: (Picture: PA).

Sitrep: Was Sweden Better Prepared For Coronavirus Than The UK?

Cover image: (Picture: PA).

Two years ago, the Swedish government updated an old Cold War leaflet, ‘If War Comes’, into a newer version, ‘If Crisis Or War Comes.’

Elisabeth Braw, Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said on the latest episode of BFBS Sitrep that the brochure was written with “very easy to understand points and instructions” and was delivered to “every household in the country”.

Yet, she told the programme that the British Government was not interested in adopting a similar approach.

“I had a conversation with UK Government officials in a relevant part of the Government and I proposed to them that the UK could do something similar and the response I got was ‘no, [the public] would panic',” she said.

Christopher Lee, BFBS Defence Analyst, helped re-write a leaflet for use in Cold War Britain but says he was told it could not be used as it might “scare people”.

However, Mr Lee believes that you cannot get people to respond in a certain way until they ask, “what should they be doing?”.

“It’s at that point when [the] Government has to come out with the pamphlet, the leaflet, or just the public statement.”

However, Ms Braw believes that “if people have to panic, it’s better to panic before there is a crisis”, as otherwise, you see “the sort of behaviour that resulted in a run on supermarkets".

Sweden's 'If Crisis Or War Comes' document.
Sweden's 'If Crisis Or War Comes' document.

The statistics back up Sweden’s use of the leaflet, although it cannot be considered to be the only determining factor.

As of 1 April, Sweden, with a population on 10.2 million people, had over 4,435 coronavirus cases and 180 deaths - a death rate of 4.06%.

As of 1 April, the United Kingdom had 25,150 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,789 deaths, equalling a death rate of 7.11%.

As well as the gulf in death rates, Sweden has only closed its high schools and colleges, leaving the rest of society, including bars and restaurants, to go about business as normal.

You can hear the programme live on Thursdays on BFBS Radio 2 at 16:30 (UK time) and at 18:30 (UK time) BFBS via DAB+ across the UK. 

Listen online and via our radio App in the UK and overseas.  Hear BFBS also on FM in Scotland, Colchester, Salisbury Plain, Aldershot, Catterick, Brize Norton, Lisburn, Holywood and Aldergrove and Blandford Forum in the UK and on all overseas stations. 

On Sky Channel 0211/Freesat 786.

Cover image: (Picture: PA).

Related topics

Join Our Newsletter


Veteran Adam Diver plunges into Guinness World Records with 46-mile swim

Hero ex-Gurkha reveals what kept him going as oxygen ran down on Everest

Military community marks Scottish War Memorial and D-Day anniversary