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Norway’s Covid-19 travel rules: Switzerland amongst next group of likely ‘red’ countries

Increasing coronavirus infections in Switzerland, Poland and the Czech Republic are likely to result in Norway applying travel restrictions to the countries this week.

Norway’s Covid-19 travel rules: Switzerland amongst next group of likely 'red' countries
The Jet d'Eau fountain in Geneva. Photo: AFP

The move was signalled on Monday by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), which published similar notifications in July before restrictions were applied to travellers from Spain and Belgium.

Norway's health authorities designated EEA and Schengen countries as ‘green' or ‘red’ depending on current infection rates. To remain ‘green’, the figure must be under 20 infections per 100,000 residents in total over the past two weeks.

Once a country is ‘red', the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against travel that is not strictly necessary to that country, and self-quarantine is required for travellers returning or arriving from it. This also means people cannot travel from 'red' countries to Norway for tourism.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: MAP: Which countries are open for tourism to and from Norway?

NIPH said on Monday that it would recommend travel advisories for Switzerland and the Czech Republic to be changed to ‘red’ at the next update scheduled for later this week, unless any change in the situation occurs in the meantime. Poland should also be “assessed”, according to the NIPH statement.

The final decision on travel advice is taken by the government based on NIPH assessments.

Switzerland and the Czech Republic have both exceeded the 20 per 100,000 resident infections threshold, resulting in  the Norwegian public health authority's forthcoming recommendation.

 

Poland is reporting an ongoing increase and infections and is currently at 17.9 per 100,000 residents.

The figures come from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the EU agency monitoring the data.

“New figures show that Switzerland is at 22.9 and Czech Republic 26.8 new Covid-19 infections per 100,000 residents for the last 14 days, and the trend is increasing. We are therefore now notifying that, unless the situation changes, NIPH will recommend that Switzerland and Czech Republic become ‘red’ countries and thereby encompassed by quarantine rules,” NIPH head of department Line Vold said in the statement.

Updated quarantine rules and travel advice normally comes into effect at midnight on Friday.

“We also stress the general travel advice: everyone should think carefully about whether they should travel. All travel can increase the risk of coronavirus infection and the situation at your destination can change quickly,” Vold said.

“Everyone who travels should therefore make themselves aware of the local situation. People in risk groups should think particularly carefully about whether to travel,” the director continued.

Arrivals in Norway from Switzerland, the Czech Republic or Poland before the countries ‘turn red’ will not be subject to the quarantine rule but are asked to be particularly alert for symptoms of Covid-19, get a test if necessary and maintain a social distance of at least one metre.

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COVID-19

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home. 

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