Denmark advises against travel to eight Swedish regions due to increased coronavirus infections

A recent increase in Covid-19 infections in Sweden has resulted in Denmark’s foreign ministry now advising against non-essential travel to 8 of the country’s 21 regions.

Denmark advises against travel to eight Swedish regions due to increased coronavirus infections
New Danish guidelines for travel to eight Swedish regions apply from October 8th. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The regions in question are Halland, Blekinge, Stockholm, Jämtland Härjedalen, Kronoberg, Uppsala, Västmanland and Örebro.

The foreign ministry updated its travel guidelines on Thursday. They take effect immediately.

Danish authorities advise against non-essential travel when the rate of Covid-19 infections exceeds 30 new cases per 100,000 residents per week. 

For fellow Nordic countries, this is applied on a regional basis, so travel to some areas can be excluded while other parts of the country remains open. Conversely, this allows travel to some parts of a Nordic country to continue even if the country as a whole is above the 30 new cases per 100,000 residents per week threshold.

This is currently the case for Sweden, which has 32.4 cases per 100,000 residents per week at the time of writing. The country’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people is 65.8 according to figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the EU agency monitoring the data.

People who live in countries to which Denmark advises against travel are required to provide a so-called “worthy” (anerkendelsesværdigt) reason for entering Denmark. This can include work or family reasons but not tourism. Detailed guidance can be found on the Danish police website.

If Danish residents travel to a country to which the foreign ministry advises against non-essential travel, they are asked to home quarantine for 14 days on returning to Denmark.

If you were already in one of the listed areas on October 8th, the ministry states it is okay to stay until the end of your planned trip, but you should get a Covid-19 test on your return to Denmark. You do not need to quarantine for 14 days.

The model for travel guidelines for EU and Schengen countries asks travellers to get tested after returning from a region where the number of infections has increased to 50 or more new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the last week.

The travel guidelines published by the Danish foreign ministry are primarily aimed at Danish tourists. Business travel can be deemed ‘essential', meaning travel to a country on Denmark's ‘banned' list for business purposes is not necessarily advised against.

Individual companies and employees can “assess whether a business trip is a necessary trip”, the ministry states on its travel guidelines page for Sweden.

“We encourage companies and their employees to follow the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' special travel advice for business travel and stay up to date on local travel restrictions on the relevant embassy website,” it adds.

Denmark also advises against all non-essential travel to non-EU or Schengen area European countries and to the rest of the world.

The foreign ministry list of recommended travel destinations is updated weekly at 4pm on Thursdays.

In addition to the number of infections, Danish authorities also look at testing and the percentage of tests which are positive. A maximum of five percent of those tested may test positive.

READ ALSO: Denmark tells airlines to refund cancelled tickets by December

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”