Denmark considers Covid-19 test requirement for travellers from China

Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde has asked the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute to assess whether travellers entering the country from China should be asked to provide a negative Covid-19 test.

Denmark considers Covid-19 test requirement for travellers from China
Denmark is yet to decide whether to reintroduce a Covid-19 test requirement for travellers from China. Illustration photo: Jennifer Lorenzini/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Løhde asked for the agency to address the question after the EU’s crisis response organ IPCR recommended a test requirement for travel from China.

“I have today [Wednesday, ed.] asked the State Serum Institute to assess whether measures in other EU countries in relation to a testing requirement for travellers from China are relevant in a Danish context – including testing waste water from aircraft landed from China,” she said in a statement.

“When this assessment has been submitted by SSI, I will provide further orientation,” she said.

Infection rates in the Asian country are high after it abolished its ‘zero Covid’ policy in late 2022, although no precise numbers are available.

Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the UK, have already introduced testing requirements, while Denmark’s neighbour Sweden on Thursday announced a similar step.

The United States, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan have also put testing rules in place.

Despite the growing list of countries to have made the move, Denmark has no reason to introduce a testing requirement for incoming travellers for China, according to Christian Wejse, senior physician and professor in global medicine at Aarhus University.

“It’s difficult to see what significance it would have. There’s already widespread infection with coronavirus currently in Denmark, and it’s with the Omicron variant like in China, so I actually find it hard to see the benefit,” Wejse told news wire Ritzau.

“It could be done [without major logistic obstacles, ed.] and it’s not a large burden to place on travellers in relation to houw much we’ve tested in the past,” he added.

“But I think it’s important to look at what would come out of it. What would it lead to and is it something that can improve health in Denmark and prevent us getting more infections in Denmark?”, he said.

“I think you have to say that the effects of such a test system on this are minimal,” he said.

The only situation in which Wejse said he could see reason in demanding negative Covid tests for travel from China would be if a new concerning variant emerged in the Asian country.

“But even if there were new variants from China, I find it hard to see how it would make sense,” he said.

A major interest organisation for businesses in Denmark said it supported following recommendations issued by the authorities.

“But it would be a large advantage for everyone to take coordinated steps in the Schengen area related to any testing and other measures,” Peter Thagesen, deputy director for global trade and investment with the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), told Ritzau in a written comment.

“That would make it easier for travellers – business and tourist alike,” he said.

“Generally it is important to stress that we are pleased China has opened up to the rest of the world,” he added.

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New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Plans for a new rail service running from Oslo and stopping in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen before arriving in Hamburg are in the works, Swedish state-owned rail operator SJ has said.

New rail service planned through Norway, Sweden and Denmark to Hamburg

Sweden’s state-owned SJ, along with Denmark’s DSB and DB of Germany, plans to offer a new international train line which runs between the Norwegian capital Oslo and Hamburg in northern Germany. 

The planned route would run daily, departing from Oslo at 8am before making stops in Gothenburg, Malmö and Copenhagen and arriving in Hamburg at 7pm. A service departing Hamburg and terminating in Gothenburg is also planned.

The 11 hour service would be quicker than the equivalent journey using either a car and ferry connection or existing train services. 

The planned service will enter into operation in 2027. Petter Essén, head of SJ’s vehicle and traffic programme, said the route made sense as it would connect a long stretch which doesn’t have continuous train traffic. 

“Today, there is a great deal of flying between Copenhagen and Oslo and between Oslo and Gothenburg, routes that would be fine by train,” Essén told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter

Currently, the only direct trains from the Norwegian capital to other countries are services to Gothenburg and Stockholm. 

The European Commission has selected the potential line as one of ten pilot projects that will receive support. This does not mean it will receive direct funding from the EU, but it will get backing on regulations and logistics, Essén explained.

“You can get help with various regulations and the process of getting all vehicles approved in all countries,” he said.

Generally, many Swedish and Norwegian trains can only operate within Sweden and Norway, while the majority of Danish and German trains are not cleared to run in Sweden in Norway. 

The Snälltåget line between Stockholm and Berlin has also been selected to receive support from the European Commission. 

SJ also announced plans to increase the number of trains between Gothenburg and Malmö to ten per day and offer the Gothenburg-Copenhagen service all year round. It said that these plans could come to fruition by 2026 or 2027.