Sweden tightens Covid-19 testing guidelines for international arrivals

Everyone who has visited a non-Nordic country in the last week before travelling to Sweden is urged to get tested for Covid-19 as soon as possible after arriving.

Sweden tightens Covid-19 testing guidelines for international arrivals
File photo of a Covid-19 testing station at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Sweden on November 30th stepped up its Covid-19 testing recommendations for travellers following spread of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus in several countries.

Now, all travellers who have been to a country other than Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland in the week before travelling to Sweden are recommended to get a Covid-19 test as soon as possible after arriving, preferably the same day, if possible.

These guidelines apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers, as well as those who have had Covid-19 in the last six months, and those who provided evidence of a negative test when entering Sweden. They do not apply to children aged under six.

In addition to this, everyone arriving in Sweden from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia or Eswatini is urged to get a Covid-19 test on the day of arrival or as soon as possible, as well as a second test after five days.

Furthermore, all travellers from those countries should stay home for seven days upon arrival in Sweden, irrespective of vaccination status, whether they are experiencing symptoms or not. These recommendations also apply to children, regardless of age.

As before, everyone who gets symptoms of Covid-19 should get tested, regardless of whether or not they’ve been abroad.

By 6pm on Tuesday, the Omicron variant had been confirmed in three people in Sweden. The variant was first discovered by South Africa on November 9th, and may be more contagious than other variants, although there are still a lot of unknowns.

Member comments

  1. “Urged” to get tested? ONLY “urged”?!!

    And there’s nothing in the article to indicate where or how to get tested… or even where to look for such information. Do you (who wrote the article) expect everyone arriving from a foreign county to know what agency or website to contact? I don’t know, and I just came home from a trip to Sweden. Now I need to do some research.

  2. I agree that there was not much information anywhere regarding how to get tested, but I can contribute what I experienced when I flew back to Stockholm, Sweden. I arrived at Arlanda on Sunday 5 Dec morning, and the possibility for testing was provided upon exiting the arrival area (after going through the immigration and baggage collection).

    It was a swabbing area provided by 1177/Region Stockholm. When you get there you fill a form with the details they ask for including contact information. The staff there register you and provide you a swabbing kit with the instructions on how to do your swab, and where to deposit your sample when you are done. I got my results on Tuesday morning – it was an SMS to call a number for the result. When I called the provided number it was a recorded voice message in different languages saying that I do not have COVID-19, so it seems to be catered for international travellers. I hope that helps and gives some insight into how they covered this new testing recommendation.

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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.