Switzerland removes Egypt, all countries on COVID-19 quarantine list

Amr Kandil , Saturday 4 Dec 2021

Switzerland has announced removing the 10-day quarantine requirement for travelers from Egypt, Malawi, the UK, Czech Republic and the Netherlands starting Saturday.

A woman, wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, walks past a
A woman, wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, walks past a placard reading in French : Please continue to keep your distance in a Christmas market in Lausanne on December 2, 2021. AFP

The announcement reverses a decision by the Swiss government last week to place the five countries on its quarantine list and oblige them to present negative COVID-19 test results in a bid to curb the spread of the new coronavirus Omicron variant.

The Swedish Federal Office of Public Health said Omicron cases have been detected in the five countries. Egypt’s health ministry has frequently denied detecting any Omicron cases in the country so far.

In a statement on Friday, the Swiss Federal Council said Switzerland will, in return, adopt a “stricter testing regime” for arrivals to the European country, which will also apply to vaccinated persons and those who have recovered from COVID-19.

This includes requiring arrivals to carry out PCR tests between the fourth and seventh day after arrival to Switzerland in addition to the PCR test travelers have to take before travelling to the country, the council said.

“This test ensures that infected persons who have contracted the virus shortly before or during travel are detected,” the council added.

Late In November, Canada and Kazakhstan also announced suspending flights to Egypt over fears regarding the new variant.

In a statement, the Canadian government said that the decision to expand its entry prohibition list is “based on data from ongoing surveillance efforts and the latest public health advice.”

The Kazakh government cited a reported Omicron case in Belgium of a passenger who arrived from Egypt, according to Reuters.

However, Abdinasir Abubakar, manager of the Infectious Hazard Preparedness unit for the World Health Organisation's Eastern Mediterranean Region, told the National that there is no evidence so far that the reported Omicron case in Belgium was infected while in Egypt.

Qatar has been also imposing a seven-day hotel quarantine period on fully vaccinated travellers with pre-approved and on-arrival visas arriving from Egypt since 26 November over fears around the variant.

On Thursday, the Egyptian health ministry stressed that no cases of the new coronavirus variant Omicron have been detected in Egypt so far.

Late in November, Egypt raised the quarantine preparedness level at all land, air, and sea ports over fears about Omicron, which reportedly first emerged in southern Africa.

The country has suspended direct flights with South Africa since 27 November.

It has also imposed measures regarding transit flights for a number of targeted countries: South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Eswatini, Mozambique and Lesotho.

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