STOCKHOLM: Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf has slammed the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it has failed to prevent the rising number of cases, as well as deaths.
"I believe we have failed. We have a high number of deaths and that is terrible," Xinhua news agency quoted the monarch as saying on Thursday during an annual review known as "the year with the Swedish Royal Family".
"It's been an awful year," the King said in the program, recalling "the grief and the frustration among many families and also many business owners who are on their knees and may lose their companies".
"The Swedish people have suffered enormously under difficult circumstances," he said. His son Prince Carl Philip and daughter-in-law Princess Sofia had tested positive the virus last month after displaying flu-like symptoms.
The King also said he felt for the families who were unable to bid farewell to their dying relatives, calling the experience "heavy and traumatic".
The King's remarks came just two days after the government-appointed "corona commission" issued a harsh verdict against the country's inadequate efforts to protect the elderly.
Nearly half of the country's coronavirus deaths have occurred in care homes. Addressing reporters on Thursday, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven conceded that the elderly care system lacked resources in response to the pandemic and said that Sweden will start vaccinating high-risk groups some time between December 27-29.
Sweden has so far registered 357,466 coronavirus cases, with the death toll reaching 7,893, while 3,691 patients have been admitted to ICUs throughout the pandemic in the country, according to the Public Health Agency. (IANS)