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".
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.
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Cover image: (Picture: PA).