Wed, 18 May 2022

STOCKHOLM, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Omicron variant is now spreading so fast in Sweden that previous requirements to enter the country are no longer useful, the government said on Tuesday.

Since last Friday, more than 97,000 cases have been confirmed among the population of 10.4 million people, and COVID-19 is now spreading so fast that some doctors say testing is futile.

"Travelers are no longer considered to pose a special risk when it comes to contributing to the spread of Omicron in Sweden. The requirement of a negative test taken within 48 hours before arrival is therefore no longer considered to be a proportionate measure," the government said.

From Friday, foreign nationals aged 18 and older traveling to Sweden from countries within the European Union and the European Economic Area (EU/EEA) must either present an EU digital COVID certificate, have tested negative within 72 hours before arrival, or prove that they have recovered from COVID-19 within the previous six months.

Foreign nationals traveling to Sweden from a country outside the EU/EEA are subject to the same requirements, but must also present a negative test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.

"Basically everyone who has a cold is positive. Testing is therefore meaningless, as it can take up to a week to get the test result. If you have a cold, you should assume that you are ill and should be self-isolated," Johan Styrud, chairman of the Stockholm Medical Association, told Radio Sweden.

According to the latest statistics released by the Swedish Public Health Agency on Tuesday, the cumulative number of infections is now approaching 1.7 million. Last week, the agency estimated there would be around 700,000 to 1.1 million new infections by the end of January.

Meanwhile, 82.9 percent of individuals aged 12 and older had received two doses of a vaccine by Tuesday, while 37.7 percent of those aged 18 and older had also had a booster shot.

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