Schoolteachers no more likely to catch Covid-19 when Sweden remained open during first lockdown, study finds

Schoolteachers were no more likely to catch Covid-19 than the rest of the adult population when they remained open during the first lockdown, a study has found.

Fewer than 10 preschool teachers and 20 schoolteachers in Swedenwere admitted to intensive care suffering from the virusup until June 30, data from the country’s Public Health Agency reveals.

This equates to 19 in every 100,000 teachers overall, according to the research.

Despite Sweden keeping schools open at the height of the pandemic, there was also a low incidence of severe Covid-19 among children, with only 1 in every 130,000 being admitted to intensive care with the virus.

The study was conducted by Swedish researchers and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sweden adopted a very different strategy to tackle Covid-19 compared with many other countries, choosing to avoid a full-blown lockdown.

In addition to keeping schools open, shops and restaurants also remained open across the country, with parks and recreational areas packed with groups enjoying the spring sunshine.

The government only banned events with more than 500 participants, issuing a recommendation that those who visit pubs and restaurants should be seated at a table rather than mingling at a bar.

People taking public transport were advised to “think carefully” about whether their journey is necessary.

Those who fell ill with coronavirus-like symptoms only needed to wait two days after they felt well again before returning to work or school.

However, as early as March 10, a group of doctors and researchers wrote a joint opinion piece in Sweden’s leading medical newspaper warning of a potential “disastrous impact” on Sweden’s health service if tougher actions were not taken.

“I get the feeling that they want to spread the infection to get an immunity, but it’s pretty cynical because it will be at the price of hundreds, if not thousands of lives,” said Olle Kämpe, a professor at Sweden’s leading medical university the Karolinska Institutet, who was among the authors.

There have so far been almost half a million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Sweden and almost 9,500 deaths.