STOCKHOLM, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Sweden has reported four cases of a new, more contagious COVID-19 variant first discovered in Britain, the country's Public Health Agency confirmed Wednesday.
"We always expected to find further cases of this new virus strain. This shows that our extended efforts to analyze and handle cases have been fruitful," state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said in a written statement.
To curb the spread of the variant, Sweden on Dec. 21 introduced an entry ban on arrivals from Britain, which Swedish citizens were exempt from. It also barred travelers from neighboring Denmark following reports of COVID-19 variant cases there.
According to Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, a British Airways flight from London, carrying 29 Swedes and four Finns whose final destination was Helsinki, landed at Stockholm Arlanda Airport on Saturday. None of the 33 passengers were turned away, tested on arrival or required to go into quarantine.
On Wednesday, Interior Minister Mikael Damberg announced that starting from Jan. 1, non-Swedish nationals travelling from Britain will need to show a negative test result not older than 72 hours before entering Sweden.
The rule will not apply to Swedish citizens as they cannot be legally prevented from entering the country, said Damberg.
Swedes arriving from Britain are recommended to self isolate and take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and an additional one five days later.