Coronavirus: Danish health authorities advise against hugs and kisses as government requests cancellation of events

Coronavirus: Danish health authorities advise against hugs and kisses as government requests cancellation of events
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at a press briefing on Friday. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix
The Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen, DHA) has encouraged people in Denmark not to shake hands, kiss or hug each other given the risk of coronavirus spread in the country. The government has asked organisers to cancel events with large attendances.

Such a precaution can help to slow the spread of the virus in the country, DHA director Søren Brostrøm said at a press briefing on Friday.

“The Danish Health Authority isn’t going to go around checking people’s behaviour. But it is our clear advice to not shake hands, hug or kiss,” Brostrøm said in comments reported by Ritzau.

Although cheek-kissing and similarly intimate greetings are a less prominent part of Danish culture than in countries like France, the precaution is nevertheless now official advice in the Nordic country.

“This will be an effective measure to prevent the epidemic that can hit our society,” Brostrøm said.

The DHA director acknowledged the advice may be difficult to follow in some cases, not least for couples who live together.

It has been recommended due to the most common modes of coronavirus transmission, via touching of hands, surfaces or in small droplets from coughing or sneezing.

Additionally, Brostrøm advised extra precautions in areas where there are many people, such as on public transport like Copenhagen’s Metro.

“If you take the Metro, bus or train, be aware of how close you are to others. And disinfect your hands afterwards or consider using gloves,” he said.

Authorities in Denmark on Friday asked for all events with over 1,000 attendees to be postpones or cancelled.

The recommendation is initially applicable for the rest of March, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press briefing.

Football matches and other sports events as well as concerts are among those to be impacted.

Newspaper Politiken reports on Friday that all football matches in the Danish Superliga and 1. Division will be played without spectators for the remainder of this month.

The national Melodi Grand Prix, the competition to decide the Danish entrant to the Eurovision Song Contest, will go ahead on March 7th at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen in front of an empty venue.

An orchestra festival to take place this weekend at the DR Koncerthuset, Orkesterfestivalen, has been cancelled.

“There will be costs for ordinary people, families, businesses and organizers because of this,” Frederiksen said.

“When we take these steps, it is because we want to avert potential loss of life,” the PM continued.

“Many will have booked a trip or ticket to a concert they have been looking forward to. I hope everyone will step back and look at it from the community perspective. I appeal for unity and patience,” Frederiksen said.

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