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Coronavirus: Sweden extends travel ban from Denmark

Sweden on Sunday announced an extension to the travel ban from Denmark until February 14th, over concerns of the new variant of coronavirus spreading.

Coronavirus: Sweden extends travel ban from Denmark
Illustration photo of Copenhagen airport. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe / Ritzau Scanpix

The extension to the travel ban was confirmed at a digital press conference on Sunday January 24th, when the Swedish government announced a new travel ban on entry from Norway. The entry ban from the United Kingdom was also extended until February 14th.

On Saturday January 23rd, the Norwegian government introduced a series of very strict restrictions in Oslo and nine more municipalities due to an outbreak of the more contagious B117 coronavirus variant, first identified in Britain.

The British virus mutation already exists in Sweden. So far, about 50 cases have been confirmed, the vast majority of them are linked to people who have been abroad, according to the Swedish Public Health Agency.

“The ban applies from midnight until February 14th and can be extended if necessary”, Interior Minister Mikael Damberg said at the digital press conference on Sunday afternoon.

READ MORE: COVID UPDATE: Sweden bans travel entry from Norway

In December, the Swedish government announced a ban on travel into Sweden from both the UK and Denmark, due to the new coronavirus variant in the countries. The ban was initially due to last a month.

It was the first time during the pandemic that the Scandinavian country closed the border on one of its neighbours. 

Swedish citizens are exempt from the entry ban, as are non-citizens who live or work in Sweden, and people working in the transportation of goods.
 
The B117 coronavirus variant has previously been estimated to be between 50-74 percent more infectious than established forms of Covid-19.

It is expected to comprise 50 percent of all Covid-19 variants in circulation in Denmark by the middle of February, according to a new report issued by the State Serum Institute (SSI).

It has been traced to have first appeared in Denmark in November, but was reported to have become established in the south east of England in December.

READ ALSO: How could infectious Covid-19 variant impact Denmark's infection numbers?

 

 

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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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