Citing a high level of Covid-19 infection in China and reduced restrictions in the country, Jakob Forssmed announced that the Swedish government has made the decision to introduce temporary travel restrictions for travellers to Sweden from China, which will apply to so-called “third country citizens”, (i.e. non-Swedish, non-EU citizens), upon arrival.
“This morning, the Swedish government has made the decision to introduce temporary travel restrictions upon entry to Sweden from China,” he said.
“This is being done, among other things, to lower the risk of a new variant of the virus causing Covid-19 entering Sweden or spreading to other countries. This decision is based on the proposal recently submitted to the government by the Public Health Agency,” he said.
Forssmed also said that the test requirement is intended to reduce strain on Swedish healthcare by delaying the introduction of a potential new variant to Sweden.
He stated that travel restrictions will apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals arriving in Sweden from China, as well as adults and children over the age of 12.
“Travel restrictions do not apply to Swedish citizens,” he added, “and there are some other exemptions, such as people with residency permits in Sweden, people with long-term EU residency, and other EU/EES citizens.”
The test requirement will come into force on January 7th and will apply for three weeks.
“This means that [restrictions] will apply at the time of the next flight from China,” he said.
Finally, Forssmed encouraged the public to help limit the spread of infection.
“I would like to underline the importance us all helping each other to limit the spread of infection by following the advice and recommendations on Covid-19 which are in place. That means: show consideration, stay at home if you have symptoms or are unwell, and get vaccinated,” he said.
Byfors, head of department at Sweden’s Public Health Agency, said that a temporary test requirement is a “possible relevant measure in the current situation,” adding that the Agency is “well aware” that travel restrictions “cannot stop the spread of a new variant of the virus, as shown throughout the pandemic”.
“However, a coordinated EU response could potentially delay the introduction of a new variant of the virus, and even a slight delay is valuable in the difficult situation healthcare is under currently and has been under for a long time,” she added.
She said that the epidemiological situation in China is “difficult to assess”, with “very limited information” on which variants of the virus are present in the country compared to elsewhere in the world.
“The data we have suggest that it is the same variants of the virus that we have here, but we can also still see that we need more information.”
She added that, despite a high level of infection in Sweden, the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine has limited the impact of this on Swedish healthcare.
“However, healthcare is highly strained, not least due to the strain of RS-virus, influenza and Covid-19, and we believe this will continue throughout the winter.”
Byfors added that the Agency is also looking at the effects the Covid-19 situation in China could potentially have on Sweden and will issue a report next Wednesday.
She also echoed Forssmed’s statement to follow current advice and recommendation regarding the virus.
“Vaccinate yourself according to the current recommendations. Vaccinations are still the best way to protect yourself against the risk of serious illness,” she said.