Denmark advises against travel to France due to increase in coronavirus cases

The Danish foreign ministry is now advising against all non-essential travel to France and Croatia, which in recent weeks have seen increasing numbers of Covid-19 infections.

Denmark advises against travel to France due to increase in coronavirus cases
Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

The decision was confirmed by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday afternoon.

One of the Danish criteria for designating a country ‘open' for travel is that the number of current coronavirus infections in the last week must be below 20 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Once a country is open, the critical limit for when travel advisories are tightened again is set at 30 cases of infection per 100,000 residents, measured over the past week.

France and Croatia are now both over this limit with figures at around 33 and 34 cases per 100,000 residents respectively, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the EU agency monitoring the data.

The travel advisories are not legally binding and it is therefore not illegal not to follow them, but the Danish foreign ministry advises people who travel to France after August 27th to stay at home for 14 days after returning to Denmark.

Danes and Danish residents currently in France can stay in the country until the end of their holiday, according to the updated travel advice on the Danish foreign ministry website. In such cases, the ministry advises getting a test for Covid-19 on returning to Denmark but does not ask travellers to home quarantine.

The same guidelines apply to Croatia.

Both countries are popular destinations for Danish tourists.

“A lot of holidays to Croatia have been going on, so it means a lot for the travel industry side, because we organise a lot of trips there,” Lars Thykier, CEO of the Danish Travel Agency Association, said to Ritzau.

“France is a little different because travel there takes a varying number of forms. It is more than just holiday travel, so it means a lot that (France) will now be a closed country,” Thykier added.

In addition to the number of new cases, health authorities also base recommendations on the number of tests a country is conducting and the proportion of tests which return positive. A maximum of five percent of those tested may test positive.

Danish authorities are no longer advising against travel to Bulgaria, reversing its ‘closed’ status of the past four weeks.

Once a country has been ‘closed’ for travel, one of the criteria for designating a country ‘open' again is that the number of coronavirus infections must be below 20 per 100,000 inhabitants during the last seven days.

Although Bulgaria has been below that number since last week, the country does not meet Denmark's criteria for testing. However, Danish authorities have applied a safety margin where the number of infections in the country is multiplied by 1.5.

The purpose of this is take into account that there may be more infected people in the country than official figures show.

Bulgaria's number of infected people has fallen further in the past week to around 12 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the ECDC.

That number is significantly low for travel advisories against Bulgaria to be dropped even though it fails to meet testing criteria.

Denmark opened its borders for travel to the majority of EU and Schengen countries, along with the United Kingdom, in July after previously closing its borders at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

READ ALSO: Denmark advises against travel to Spain and postpones part of re-opening

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French government calls on over-60s to get second Covid booster as cases rise

As Covid cases show a significant rise in France in recent weeks, the government is calling on all eligible groups to get a second Covid vaccine booster shot.

French government calls on over-60s to get second Covid booster as cases rise

After a 40 percent rise in Covid-19 cases in the last week, the French Health ministry is calling all eligible people – including over 60s and those health conditions – to receive their second booster (fourth dose) of the vaccine.

“It is necessary to redouble our efforts to protect vulnerable people, this is done through vaccination and this campaign of second boosters is absolutely necessary,” said the ministry of health.

The Covid incidence rate is increasing in more than 50 départements across France. Currently, there are an average of 50,000 positive tests per day, which has also been accompanied by an increase in hospitalisations. 

“This is very clearly a reprisal of the epidemic linked to the arrival of new variants of the Omicron family, which are called BA4 BA5,” said infectious disease specialist Anne-Claude Crémieux to Franceinfo. Crémieux added that these variants are faster-spreading.

Therefore, the government is calling on vulnerable people to take their second booster dose (the fourth dose of the vaccine).

So far, only a quarter of eligible people have taken their second booster dose, with an average rate of 25,000 to 30,000 injections per day for the past two months.

“This is not enough, and it is not going fast enough,” urged the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

The Haute autorité de santé also recently released its recommendation for a vaccination campaign to give a second Covid vaccine booster shot for the wider population, starting in October. 

The HAS recommendation advises starting France’s annual flu vaccine campaign in mid October (mid September for the French overseas territory of Mayotte) and combining it with a campaign to give a second Covid vaccine booster ahead of a possible new wave of Covid in the winter. 

At present although the great majority of the French adult population is vaccinated against Covid with two doses and a booster, a second booster is only recommended for people in high risk groups such as the over 60s and those with long-term health conditions.

The HAS recommendation reads: “At the end of May, the HAS recommended preparing for a booster shot campaign for people most at risk of developing the most severe forms of Covid, and envisaged a booster shot for healthcare workers.

“Those parts of the population most at risk are also those for whom the seasonal flu vaccination is recommended, therefore for logistical reasons the HAS recommends combining the two campaigns.”

The flu campaign is advised to go ahead as normal, starting in mid-October.

The HAS only makes recommendations, the details of policy are up to the government, but it usually follows HAS advice.

The usual seasonal flu campaign in France offers a vaccine for free to anyone in a high risk group, which includes the elderly, people with underling health conditions, healthcare workers and pregnant women – full details HERE on how to get the vaccine.

Those who don’t fit into those categories can still access the vaccine, but must pay for it – €6-€10 for the vaccine and the standard appointment charge to have it administered by a doctor (€25, with 70 percent reimbursed for those with a carte vitale).

The flu vaccine is available from family doctors, midwives and participating pharmacies once the campaign officially launches.

The Covid vaccine is also available from family doctors, midwives and pharmacies, but most of the vaccine centres set up in 2021 have now been closed down.

There is currently no suggestion a return of the health pass, so a second booster shot would be entirely voluntary, but the government has the power to re-introduce such measures if a major wave of Covid hits France over the autumn and winter.

Currently, there are no plans to lower the age minimum (as of now set at 60 years old) for receiving a second booster. Health authorities believe that the immune response after a first booster “continues to sufficiently protect” younger adults.