Two paranoid parents in Sweden locked away their three kids in separate rooms for four months — and even nailed the front door shut — to protect them from catching the coronavirus.
The extreme measures began in March, when the outbreak first hit the Scandinavian nation and the parents yanked their kids out of school, the Telegraph reported.
A civil court in southern Sweden found that the couple, originally from Vietnam, kept the children — two girls ages 17 and 15 and a boy, 10 — in isolation until July 9.
That’s when authorities found them isolated in separate rooms, where they continued their schoolwork online.
“The parents even nailed planks over the front door and there has even been isolation within the family, where the children had to stay in their rooms, even eating there,” the court said.
The court ruled last week that the parents’ “psychological ill health and fear for COVID-19 had led to serious failings in the care for their children.”
Mikael Svegfors, a lawyer for the children, said the parents panicked when Sweden refused to implement an official lockdown — with the country instead stressing personal responsibility to fight the outbreak and opting to strive for herd immunity.
“They didn’t really understand Swedish and they rather relied on newscasts over the internet from their own country,” he said. “Over there, they shut down whole cities, and they got scared, and they said, ‘We need to protect our family.’”
Svegfors said the children, who speak fluent Swedish, kept in contact with friends and teachers online and had access to their iPads and phones.
“They tried to talk to their parents but this didn’t work, and of course they knew that all their school friends were allowed outside,” he said.
The parents denied keeping their kids under lock and key, saying they were allowed to leave if they wanted to — a claim refuted by their eldest child.
“As a result of the parents’ fear, the social services have had difficulty cooperating with them,” the court said. “From the hearing, it seems that they continue to have an ambivalent attitude to letting the children leave home to go, for example, to school.”
The children were placed with a foster family and returned to school earlier this month.
Svegfors said they’ll be allowed to see their parents as much as they want and a decision on their foster care will be made in six months.
People sit at a lakeside beach in Stockholm.Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images
“They still want to be with their parents,” he said. “They just said, ‘We need to concentrate on our schoolwork, and we want to be able to play with our friends. But as soon as this corona pandemic is over, we want to return to our family.’”
Sweden recorded 51,405 deaths between January and June — the highest number of fatalities in the first half of the year in the country since 1869, when the nation was struck by famine.