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Europe Covid: Switzerland forces British arrivals to quarantine for 10 days

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Winter holiday plans for thousands of Britons have plunged into chaos after Switzerland suddenly tightened Covid entry rules over fears of the Omicron variant.

Anyone wishing to travel to the Alpine country from the UK will now have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival, even if they have been double vaccinated against Covid, have recovered from the illness or have tested negative.

The rules will ruin the holiday plans of thousands of Brits flying to Geneva to reach nearby French ski resorts such as Val Thorens, Courchevel and Meribel – as well as resorts in Switzerland itself.

It comes after France announced it would require a Covid vaccine pass to access sky slopes, adding further difficulties to Britons wishing to travel.

Winter tourists hoping to hit ski slopes in France (photo, Val Thorens) have been thrown into chaos after Switzerland imposed a 10-day quarantine on all Britons

Those wishing to reach the French resorts are now being forced to divert to Lyon, although capacity at that airport is much more limited than in Geneva.

Those unable to get a flight to Lyon will have to travel either three hours from Grenoble or eight hours from Calais.

Switzerland imposed its new restrictions on Saturday at 8pm, after two cases of the Omicron variant of Covid were discovered in the UK.

Some travelers were taken aback by the sudden change and faced the nightmarish situation of landing in Geneva, only to be turned around by border guards.

Tim Woods, from Wigan, was on his way to Italy via Geneva on Saturday.

He told The Times he was allowed to board his EasyJet flight in Manchester but was then sent back in Switzerland and forced to return home.

His luggage will remain in Switzerland and to top it off, his insurance company will not pay out as Covid-related border changes are not covered.

The number of cases of Omicron in the UK now stands at 14, with the most discovered in Scotland after a rugby match against South Africa.

Other cases have been identified in Nottingham, London and Essex.

Switzerland followed the lead of the UK, which became the first country to impose travel restrictions on seven South African countries where the variant was first discovered last week.

Geneva is a popular route for thousands of people hoping to reach the ski resorts of the French Alps, but thousands are now having to reschedule their trips in light of the new rules

Geneva is a popular route for thousands of people hoping to reach the ski resorts of the French Alps, but thousands are now having to reschedule their trips in light of the new rules

Since then, dozens of countries, including France, Spain and Germany, have followed suit — with Japan going so far as to ban all foreigners from traveling.

The fear of the Omicron variant is driven by the fact that it is the most mutated form of Covid discovered to date, with several of its 32 mutations known to make the virus more contagious, even in the vaccinated.

The fear of the Omicron variant is driven by the fact that it is the most mutated form of Covid discovered to date, with several of its 32 mutations known to make the virus more contagious, even in the vaccinated.

Early data from South Africa seems to confirm these suspicions, with cases increasing rapidly as Omicron seemingly outnumbers the dominant Delta strain.

But big questions remain about whether Omicron, like Delta, also causes more serious illness in the people it infects.

dr. Angelique Coetzee — the South African doctor who discovered Omicron — says her patients have had far more mild infections to date than Delta’s, none requiring hospital treatment.

While the WHO has labeled Omicron a “carrying variant” and said it poses a “very high” risk to the global recovery, it also says there have been no deaths from the variant anywhere in the world.

That has led Karl Lauterbach, a professor in the running to become Germany’s next health minister, to suggest that Omicron could actually aid global recovery by eradicating Delta and replacing it with a less severe form of the virus. .

Switzerland is just one of dozens of countries re-imposing travel restrictions for fear of the Omicron variety, which seems much more contagious than the Delta strain

Switzerland is just one of dozens of countries re-imposing travel restrictions for fear of the Omicron variety, which seems much more contagious than the Delta strain

Virologists around the world have been predicting since the start of the pandemic that the ultimate fate of Covid will likely be for it to mutate into a less severe form and become endemic, similar to the common cold or flu.

Nevertheless, the lack of data surrounding Omicron against the background of the already increasing Covid cases in Europe has led leaders to take an extremely cautious approach.

Last week, France announced it would expand its Covid health pass system to ski slopes to curb cases that have been on the rise for weeks.

According to the new system, anyone over 12 years old who wants to enter the slopes must prove that they have been vaccinated twice against Covid.

In addition, anyone whose last dose was more than seven months ago should receive a booster shot.

This poses several problems for UK travellers, as children under the age of 16 cannot currently get a vaccine passport.

Children over 12 are now eligible for second doses, while all adults in the UK can get booster shots following yesterday’s government announcement, but a race for vaccine appointments means some may not be able to get them in time to to travel.

Vaccine passports are not valid until 14 days after the dose is given, due to the time it takes to build up immunity in the body.

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