As COVID cases wane, Sweden has proclaimed that the pandemic is over.

The Nordic country rolled back almost all of its pandemic-related restrictions on Wednesday and put an end to most COVID testing, despite scientists urging for patience to combat the disease, Reuters reported.

As of Wednesday, free PCR testing will only be available to healthcare and elderly care workers and the most vulnerable. People that show COVID-19 symptoms are asked to stay home, according to the Associated Press.

Minister of Health Lena Hallengren told Swedish newspaper Dagen Nyheter, as reported by Reuters, “As we know this pandemic, I would say it’s over. It’s not over, but as we know it in terms of quick changes and restrictions it is.”

She added that COVID would no longer be classified as a danger to society.

Restrictions lifted include the ability for bars and restaurants to stay open past 11 p.m. with no limit on the number of patrons inside, as well as the easing of capacity limits on larger indoor venues. The requirement for vaccine passes was also lifted.

Sweden ended its COVID testing this week after its Health Agency claimed it was too expensive in terms of benefits.

“We have reached a point where the cost and relevance of the testing is no longer justifiable,” Swedish Public Health Agency Chief Karin Tegmark Wisell told the national broadcast SVT this week, as reported by the AP. “If we were to have extensive testing adapted to everyone who has COVID-19, that would mean half a billion kronor a week (about $55 million) and 2 billion a month ($220 million).”

During the pandemic, Sweden officials notoriously opted against countrywide lockdowns that were adopted across the majority of the world to control the spread of COVID-19.

Fredrik Elgh, professor of virology at Umea University and a critic of Sweden’s no-lockdown policy, told Reuters that Sweden should have more patience and wait at least a few more weeks to lift the pandemic-related restrictions.

“The disease is still a huge strain on society,” he said.

At present, Sweden's hospitals still have about 2,200 COVID-19 patients admitted - the same number as was admitted during the spring of 2021 when the third wave of the virus was occurring, Reuters said.

Sweden reported 114 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, with 16,358 total deaths from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

COVID-19 Rapid Test
Pictured: Representative image of an individual holding a SARS-CoV-2 rapid test. Bastian Riccardi/Pixabay