Denmark requires travellers from Middle East hubs to take Covid-19 test

All travellers arriving in Denmark from Doha and Dubai airports are to be required to take a Covid-19 test, the Danish Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday.

Passengers on flights from Doha and Dubai are now required to take a Covid-19 test on arrival in Denmark.
Passengers on flights from Doha and Dubai are now required to take a Covid-19 test on arrival in Denmark. Photo: Regis Duvignau/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Isolation rules are also to be tightened, the ministry said in a statement.

The restrictions on arrivals from the two airports, in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates respectively, are aimed at limited and delaying the spread of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant in Denmark, according to the ministry.

Authorities in Denmark, the State Serum Institute and the Danish Health Authority, recommended the measure, as did the government’s independent Epidemic Commission.

The test requirement will apply to all arrivals on flights from Doha and Dubai. Passengers who refuse to take a test before leaving the airport in Denmark can be fined.

Doha and Dubai airports are both hubs for regional travel and passengers from South Africa transfer at the airports on routes to Europe. South Africa first identified the Omicron variant and alerted the international community to it last week.

Several countries have subsequently placed travel bans on South Africa and neighbouring countries, including Denmark. The initial list of restrictions on South Africa and six other countries — Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini – was expanded this week to include Angola, Malawi and Zambia.

Travel to Denmark from those countries is only permissible if one of a narrow range of “worthy purpose” criteria is fulfilled. Requirements to test and isolate for 10 days would also then apply to the traveller.

A negative PCR test on day six after arrival now allows the person to leave isolation under Danish rules. This is a tightened of previous isolation rules which allowed quarantine to be broken after a negative test on day four.

An immunity pass, given to visitors who have previously had Covid-19 and are therefore conferred immunity to the virus, will now be valid for 180 days instead of the previous 12 months, in another rule change announced by the ministry on Wednesday.

The minimum age at which a Covid-19 health pass can be demanded of travellers to Denmark is now 15 years. It was previously 16 years.

READ ALSO: How foreign citizens can get a booster Covid-19 jab in Denmark

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Crisis-stricken airline SAS records heavy losses

Troubled Scandinavian airline SAS, which has filed for bankruptcy in the United States, reported deeper losses in the fourth quarter on Wednesday.

Crisis-stricken airline SAS records heavy losses

Net losses amounted to more than 1.2 billion Swedish kronor ($117 million) in the August-October period, compared to a loss of 744 million kronor a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

“As with previous quarters in 2022, the currencies (foreign exchange) and jet-fuel price have brought strong headwinds for our business,” said SAS chief executive Anko van der Werff.

The airline, however, saw the “highest number” of passengers since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, with healthy demand in the summer, van der
Werff said.

The airline, which cut 5,000 jobs in 2020, is preparing for “substantial recruitments and rehirings” to meet the expected increase in demand next
summer, he added.

SAS filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in the United States in July — a move allowing a company to restructure its debts under court

Van der Werff said the airline expected to complete the court-supervised process during the second half of 2023.

Earlier this year, The airline posted a net loss of 1.84 billion kronor ($170 million) for the May-July period, compared to a loss of 1.33 billion kronor a year earlier.

Earnings were “severely affected” by the 15-day pilot strike between July 4th-19th, which led to the cancellation of some 4,000 flights affecting more than 380,000 passengers, the company said in a statement.