Sweden’s King has condemned the country’s government response to the Covid-19 pandemic on a day when new cases hit a record number. 

“I believe we have failed. We have a large number who have died and that is terrible. It’s something we all share the suffering from,” King Carl XVI Gustaf said in a Christmas interview with Swedish broadcaster SVT.  

It’s criticism that comes with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven under scrutiny for his coronavirus policy as new cases surge. 

Swedish state broadcaster (SVT) reported an all-time high of Covid-19 patients in hospital this week and some ICUs are reported to be at capacity.  

On Tuesday, Löfven acknowledged his strategy of achieving herd immunity had failed. “It is proof that it is a virus that we did not know about before and that behaves in a way that many would not have thought,” he said

No lockdown for Sweden: The country never went into a lockdown during the first wave and was well into the second when voluntary precautions were recommended at the regional level.

November restrictions: With case numbers rising in November, the Prime Minister imposed a national ban on public gatherings of more than eight people. More recently he ordered theaters and entertainment venues closed and advised students aged 13 to 15 to shift to online learning.

Christmas gatherings: But in private settings, people are only recommended to “interact with each other in smaller circles,” according to government guidelines. During Christmas festivities people are urged not to meet people outside their immediate circle. Mask wearing has not been advised.

High deaths in care homes: An independent report by a special commission this week attributed the high number of deaths in care homes to the “overall spread of the virus in the society.” It claims that measures for care homes were late despite early information that older people were particularly vulnerable.

Some conclusions about where we could have been better have already been drawn,” Löfven said.  

On Thursday there were 8,815 new Covid-18 cases — the highest number recorded in a 24 hour period since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Swedish Health Agency data, marking an increase of more than 2,000 cases from last week. Sweden has had 7,893 deaths from the virus, more per capita than other Scandinavian countries.

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