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Denmark bans travel from South Africa over new virus variant

Denmark said it is barring entry to non-Danish residents of South Africa due to fears over the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus there.

Denmark bans travel from South Africa over new virus variant
Passengers at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December 2020. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

South Africans and other foreign nationals who reside in Denmark will be allowed to return to Denmark from South Africa under the restrictions.

Denmark has not recorded any cases of the new variant, which was detected by South African authorities in mid-December and has since been found in a number of other countries.

The South African variant and another which has emerged in Britain are said to be more infectious versions of the virus, and have prompted widespread concern. The two variants are not the same as each other.

Denmark's decision came into effect Wednesday and will last until January 17th.

“This means that foreigners residing in South Africa generally will be refused entry to Denmark during this period,” the justice ministry said in a statement late Tuesday.

The following groups from South Africa can be exempted and granted entry to Denmark:

  • Primary carers for children under the age of consent (upon documentation of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 24 hours of arrival in Denmark)
  • Family or partners to seriously ill or dying persons in Denmark (upon documentation of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 24 hours of arrival in Denmark)
  • Inward travel for the purpose of goods transport

Denmark, which is under a partial lockdown since mid-December, has almost 90 cases of the new British variant.

It has already barred entry to arrivals from Britain except for Danish nationals and permanent residents, who must present a negative virus test.

READ ALSO: Residents of Denmark returning from UK must take Covid-19 test within 24 hours of travel

Authorities said Tuesday they were toughening coronavirus restrictions and urged people to avoid social contacts.

“Stay at home as much as you can, don't meet people outside your household, those close to you,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference.

 

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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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