Swedish official draws ire for breaking his own agency's COVID guidelines

January 05, 2021
Dan Eliasson, director-general of Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency.
Dan Eliasson, director-general of Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency.

STOCKHOLM — A senior government official in Sweden has been criticized after going against his own agency's COVID-19 recommendations and traveling to the Canary Islands over Christmas.

Dan Eliasson, director-general of Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency, had been heavily involved in the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in December, the agency sent a text to all Swedish citizens, urging them to avoid travel abroad during the Christmas holidays.

But Eliasson was then photographed several times in Spain's Gran Canaria, including inside Las Palmas airport.

When questioned by Swedish media, the director-general said he had already "given up a lot of traveling during the pandemic", and wanted to spend Christmas with his daughter, who lives in the Canary Islands.

"I celebrated Christmas with her and my family," Eliasson told the Expressen newspaper, adding that he had worked remotely during the trip.

"I have made the assessment that the trip is necessary"

A number of political commentators and social media users have called for Eliasson to resign, following the controversy.

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and other ministers have not yet commented.

Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg seemingly mocked the director-general's statements in a tweet, alongside a photo of her sailing trip across the Atlantic Ocean in 2019.

"I have given up a lot of air travel during this climate crisis, but I thought this trip was necessary," tweeted Greta Thunberg on Saturday.

Euronews has contacted Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency for further comment on their director-general's trip.

At a press conference on Dec. 8, Prime Minister Löfven recommended that Swedish citizens not travel unless absolutely necessary, due to the spread of COVID-19.

The PM, as well as Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, have also generated criticism after they were photographed visiting shopping centers in December, despite the government's advice not to.

Sweden has registered more than 437,000 cases and more than 8,700 deaths since the pandemic began, while never imposing a national lockdown.

But following a recent increase in infections, the government last month urged citizens to observe a new series of measures, including avoiding holidays abroad. — Euronews

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