Sweden on Thursday announced the death of more than 3,000 people in the country from the new coronavirus.

Criticized for its relaxed response to the coronavirus, the Nordic country confirmed 24,623 cases, the Public Health Agency announced in a news conference.

The somber death toll in the country has far exceeded the tolls of neighboring Denmark and Norway.

Sweden has not imposed strict lockdown measures implemented elsewhere in Europe, and allowed schools for under 16, cafes, bars, restaurants and businesses to stay open while urging people and businesses to respect social distancing rules.

More than 3.77 million cases reported in 187 countries since the virus emerged in China last December, with the US and Europe being hardest-hit areas.

A significant proportion of COVID-19 patients — over 1.25 million — have recovered, but the disease has claimed more than 264,000 lives, according to data compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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