The testing for the new coronavirus or COVID-19 of Sweden rose last week to its highest level since the outbreak started but still, it fell far short of the target, in what has escalated became a focal point criticism of the pandemic policy of the government.

Last week 36,500 people in Sweden got tested positive for the deadly novel virus outbreak, an increase from 29,000 in the previous week but it was still less than the target of the government that was set in mid-April for 100,000 weekly tats, country's health authority data showed.

Sweden Tackles COVID-19

Coronavirus
A worker of Junjiang Industrial Limited Company arranges disposable surgical gowns in Yilong New District at Bouyei-Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Qianxinan in southwest China's Guizhou Province, Feb. 21, 2020. Medical supply companies in Yilong New District have been producing medical supplies at full capacity to support the fight against the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. (Xinhua/Yang Wenbin/IANS) Xinhua/IANS

The country has tested 275,500 samples since the pandemic began, a much lower rate of testing than in its Nordic neighbors. Denmark has carried out more than double Sweden's total despite having only half the population. Unlike much of Europe, most schools, restaurants, and businesses have remained open in Sweden, with authorities relying on voluntary measures focused on good hygiene and social distancing to stem the outbreak.

Yet 4,468 people have died in the outbreak in Sweden, a per capita rate many times higher than in other Nordic countries, all of which imposed tighter restrictions. Testing in Sweden had been largely restricted to patients in hospitals and healthcare staff. It is set to be expanded to more groups with the government urging regional authorities to ramp up testing in a process that has been marred with confusion over whose responsibility it is.

With tests for the active disease still hard to come by, the launch of antibody testing by private players last week saw hundreds of Stockholmers queuing be tested in the city center. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said there will be an inquiry soon into the country's handling of the pandemic as criticism has grown over nursing home deaths as well as the lack of testing.

(With agency inputs)