In his annual Christmas address to the country, Sweden’s king told residents that the nation’s strategy to slow the spread of the coronavirus had “failed,” according to The Hill.
In his comments to the nation Thursday, Carl XVI Gustaf acknowledged that nearly 8,000 people had died since the onset of the virus, and the fatality count in the country continues to rise, according to The Hill.
“I think we have failed. We have a large number who have died and that is terrible. It is something we all have to suffer with,” according to a translation from the Financial Times.
Sweden has not followed other European countries in implementing a nationwide lockdown and has kept schools, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters mostly open. In November though, after a second wave of infection hit the country, public gatherings were limited and some schools were closed.
Some hospitals have moved beyond 100%t capacity, and officials are weighing more options for managing the spread of the virus without shuttering businesses, according to The Hill. (RELATED: Coronavirus Not Spreading Among Students, Swedish and German Health Professionals Say)
Officials sent out text messages cautioning people to limit their Christmas gatherings to a max of eight people. A alcohol curfew has also been placed on bar and restaurants, The Hill reported.
Swedish officials have only issued recommendations and have largely relied on citizens acting responsibly to limit the spread of the virus, according to NBC News.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert said in late November that although Swedes have substantially curbed their activities on their own initiative, he sees no evidence of herd immunity. Herd immunity is developed when enough people become immune to a disease to make its spread unlikely.