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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

Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death. 

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