Scand J Public Health 50 (6) 711-729 [2022-08-00; online 2021-11-29]
Aim: This study investigates the non-medical public health and surveillance policies and actions for tackling the community spread of COVID-19 pandemic in Denmark, Serbia and Sweden during the first five months of the pandemic in 2020. Method: The study is inspired by a process-tracing design for case study with a focus on the non-medical measures and surveillance strategies implemented by the three countries. The comprehensive collection and study of national documents formed the basis of the document analysis. Results: The Danish strategy was to prolong the transmission period, preventing high numbers of infected cases from impacting their healthcare capacity. The government's strategy was characterized by strict governance elements, health guidelines and behavioural recommendations. In Serbia, the main strategy was to prevent the spread and control of the infectious disease by shifting all human and material resources towards the function of controlling the spread. Serbia applied the strictest measures in the fight against coronavirus in relation to other countries in the region and in Europe. The Swedish strategy focused more on recommendations than requirements to motivate the public to modify their behaviours voluntarily. Sweden's loose pandemic strategy implementation focused on voluntary and stepwise action rather than legislation and compulsory measures. Conclusions:The public health policies and actions implemented to prevent community spread of COVID-19 in Denmark, Serbia and Sweden varied during the first five months of the pandemic. The differences in their response were due to delays in implementation, inconsistencies in perspectives towards the outbreak and the capacity of each country in terms of their pandemic preparedness and response.