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FEATURE

Travel update: Denmark makes Austria yellow, more of Italy now green

Denmark will change the colour classification of a number of regions in Europe in the latest weekly update to its Covid-19 travel guidelines.

Travel update: Denmark makes Austria yellow, more of Italy now green
Denmark issues weekly updates to its Covid-19 travel restrictions based on latest infection data. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The new guidelines, confirmed by the Foreign Ministry on Friday, come into effect at 4pm on Saturday.

Austria will become completely yellow once the update comes into force. Two Austrian regions, Burgenland and Kärnten, were previously green, but these now turn yellow along with the remainder of the country.

Like Austria, Croatia will now be yellow, entirely yellow, with its only green region, Sjeverna Hravatska, changing status on Saturday.

The main difference between travelling to Denmark from a yellow country is that Danish residents who are not vaccinated or immune through previous infection (and must therefore take a Covid-19 test before travel) are required to get a test after entry.

Non-Danish citizens or residents are required to show a negative coronavirus test at border control.

Those arriving by air can get a rapid antigen test for free at the airport between the arrival gate and border control.

The region of Lazio (which includes Rome)  in Italy goes in the other direction, from yellow to green, on Saturday. Italy is yellow nationally in the ministry guidelines, but several regions are now green. These are Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Abruzzo, Molise and Trento, with Lazio now to be added.

Fiuli-Venezia-Giulia is the only Italian region to switch from green to yellow.

The Azores in Portugal also change to green on Saturday.

Countries and regions which are classified as green are not subject to any Danish entry restrictions.

Outside of the EU, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brunei, Japan and Serbia change status to orange on Saturday.

Denmark cautions against non-essential trips to orange countries.

Countries can also be “hatched orange”, which means travel to those countries is advised against because of the restrictions imposed by those countries on travel from Denmark.

Fully vaccinated travellers from orange countries are not required to take a Covid-19 test before or after entry to Denmark and do not need to isolate.

Unvaccinated people from orange countries who have conferred immunity due to previous infection with Covid-19 not required to test or isolate but, unlike vaccinated people, must provide a worthy purpose for travelling to Denmark (this does not include tourism). Worthy purpose requirements do not apply to Danish nationals or people resident in Denmark.

People who are travelling from orange countries based on a negative test (and are therefore neither vaccinated nor have been previously infected with Covid-19) are required to isolate after entering Denmark. They must also provide a worthy purpose for travel (see above). As when arriving from yellow countries, non-vaccinated people in this category must take a Covid-19 test before and after travel to Denmark.

Detailed information about the rules for each colour code can be found here and on worthy purposes can be found here.

Last week saw changes to the guidelines affect Sweden and the United States among other countries.

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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