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Crisis? What crisis?

‘Surreal calm’: People sit at an outdoor restaurant in central Stockholm PICTURE: EPA

SWEDEN is still holding out against a lockdown with many bars, shops and restaurants welcoming customers.

A ‘surreal calm’ is said to have settled over Stockholm and other cities as groups of people mingle on the streets and cafes enjoy a brisk trade.

But with coronavirus cases surpassing 4,000, and 146 people dying from the disease, warning bells are being sounded. A petition signed by more than 2,000 doctors, scientists and professors has called on the government to tighten restrictions.

‘We’re not testing enough, we’re not tracking, we’re not isolating enough — we’ve let the virus loose,’ said Prof Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, a virus expert at the Karolinska Institute.

‘They are leading us to catastrophe.’


Not afraid’: Fans watch a premier league match in Minsk PICTURE: EPA/TATYANA ZENKOVICH

THE leader of Belarus has dismissed coronavirus as a ‘psychosis’ that can be fought with vodka and saunas.

President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled with an iron first for 25 years, said he still plays ice hockey and declared: ‘It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees.’

Crowds have continued to turn out to football matches and a fan named only as Yevgeny said: ‘We are not afraid as we are all soaked through with booze.’

But others are taking matters into their own hands after Belarus recorded 152 virus cases and its first two deaths.

Some cafes and cinemas have shut, and the Stembridge school in Minsk switched to remote learning. Teacher Evgeniya Gushchina said, between health and education, ‘I choose health’.


All’s apparently well: People carry on as normal in capital city Ashgabat

Coronavirus is not being mentioned by Turkmenistan authorities and people talking about it are ending up in jail’.

Special agents eavesdropping in public places are ‘taking people away for any talk about coronavirus’ a radio station in the ex-Soviet nation reports, according to the media monitoring group.

People wearing protective masks also face arrest in the country which claims to have no virus cases. Its state-controlled media has removed the word coronavirus from health information sent to schools, hospitals and workplaces.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, a former dentist, told officials to burn the herb harmala to ‘fumigate’ the population as it destroys viruses ‘invisible to the naked eye’.