The Swedish Public Health Agency said on Friday that people who have traveled to Brazil, UK and South Africa should be tested for COVID-19 and avoid contact with others when they return to Sweden.
At a press conference on Friday, the Public Health Agency urged everyone who travels to Sweden after visiting the UK, South Africa or Brazil to stay at home for at least seven days and avoid contact with others as much as possible, and to test themselves as soon as possible, with a follow-up test five days after their arrival in Sweden. The rest of the household are also asked to stay home waiting for test results.
The new recommendations came after the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published on Thursday a new risk assessment regarding new variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
According to the ECDC assessment report, the probability of the introduction and community spread of variants of concern in the European Union and European Economic Area are "very high" due to their increased transmissibility, which is likely to lead to an increased number of infections.
This, in turn, is likely to lead to higher hospitalization and death rates across all age-groups, but particularly for those in older age groups or with co-morbidities, said the report.
"Therefore, the impact of introduction and community spread is considered to be high. The overall risk associated with the introduction and community spread of variants of concern is therefore assessed as being high/very high," the report added.
Latest statistics from the Public Health Agency showed that 84 new deaths have been registered since Thursday, bringing the toll caused by COVID-19 to 11,005 in Sweden. Meanwhile, 4,214 new confirmed cases have been reported since Thursday, taking the total of infected cases to 547,166.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in Sweden and other countries with the already-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 64 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 15.