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TRAVEL NEWS

Sweden implements new Covid-19 test rules for travel from Denmark

Sweden’s new travel restrictions came into force on Tuesday, potentially affecting a large number of travellers from neighbouring Denmark.

Queues on the Øresund Bridge on December 27th. Many travellers from Denmark are now required to present a negative Covid-19 test at the Swedish border.
Queues on the Øresund Bridge on December 27th. Many travellers from Denmark are now required to present a negative Covid-19 test at the Swedish border. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT/Ritzau Scanpix

As of December 28th, many foreign travellers need to show a negative Covid test to be allowed to enter Sweden, regardless of whether or not they are fully vaccinated and regardless of which country they’re travelling from – non-EU, EU or any of the Nordic countries.

The test must have been carried out 48 hours before arriving in Sweden and the original test result document must be written in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, English or French.

Swedish citizens and foreign residents who can prove they live in Sweden are still among the categories of travellers who are exempt from showing a negative test.

People travelling from the EU, including Nordic countries Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland, need to show a negative test, regardless of vaccination status.

People who frequently commute across the Swedish border for work or studies can choose to either show a negative test no older than a week, or a valid vaccine pass.

A separate recommendation to get tested after arriving in Sweden still applies, regardless of whether or not a test result was shown on the border. Border commuters are exempt from the recommendation to get tested every time after arriving in Sweden. Instead, they should get tested once a week if they used the vaccine pass to enter. If they instead show a negative test to enter every week, they don’t have to take additional tests.

Sweden’s Public Health Agency has issued guidance on what kind of test will be accepted.

The test can be either an antigen test or a PCR test and must have been carried out 48 hours before arriving in Sweden – not 48 hours after you get the result, and not 48 hours after departure, so make sure you plan your trip carefully, especially if it’s long-distance.

The test certificate must also include the following information, and be written in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, English or French:

  • Name and date of birth
  • The date and time for the test
  • The kind of infection you were tested for (i.e. Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2 or a variant)
  • What kind of test was used (i.e. antigen, PCR, TMA or LAMP)
  • Information that the test was negative
  • The name and address of the laboratory that carried out or issued the test

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about travelling to, from and within Sweden

The requirement to show a negative test applies to those over the age of 12 and regardless of where in the world you are travelling from, and whether or not you are vaccinated. If you belong to a category of traveller which has to present a negative test and you don’t do so, or if your flight is delayed so that you arrive in Sweden later than 48 hours after it was carried out, border police may refuse entry.

However, previous exemptions from showing a Covid test generally still apply. That means, among other things, that Swedish citizens and foreign residents who can prove they live in Sweden have the right to enter without showing a negative test.

A full list of exemptions can be found on the Swedish Police Authority’s website

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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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