Under new guidelines drawn up to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, illegal migrants in Sweden could be given higher prioritization for health care than the elderly from the country’s native population.
The National Board of Health and Welfare has issued guidelines to medical staff which specifically state that patients should be treated on the basis of their health — and thus chances of recovery — rather than according to whether they are Swedish citizens or their legal status, according to a report by Nyheter Idag.
In practice, this means that the elderly, or those with pre-existing medical conditions, among Sweden’s native population could be given lower priority than illegal migrants as the outbreak wreaks its havoc.
A spokesman for the Health Board claimed that these guidelines are necessary to halt the spread of the virus.
Nyheter Idag has already reported that the government already has plans in place to triage patients in the case that the outbreak overwhelms the health services. If this happens, these guidelines may indeed be put into practice — with potentially fatal consequences for some Swedes.
And infection specialist Staffan Sylvan told Expressen in an article last month that Sweden’s medical system is completely unprepared for a major outbreak.
Sweden’s immigrant community is already being disproportionately affected by the virus, with a high number of reported cases being found in the Somali community, as previously reported by Voice of Europe. Migrants have also been sneezing and coughing on people as a “prank” in efforts to scare them and potentially spread the virus further.
Combined with the fact that Sweden, unlike the rest of Europe, has enacted hardly any restrictions on social interactions thus far, the country may be in for difficult times ahead.