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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

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

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