Why Denmark is cancelling concerts in response to coronavirus

With 23 confirmed infections in the country at the time of writing, authorities in Denmark have asked for all events in March with attendances of over 1,000 to be cancelled or postponed.

Why Denmark is cancelling concerts in response to coronavirus
A full Royal Arena in Copenhagen, October 2019 - a picture that won't be repeated in March 2020. Photo: Maria Albrechtsen Mortensen/Ritzau Scanpix

In addition to cancelling concerts or fulfilling sports fixtures in front of empty stadia, 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. 

None of the country’s 23 (so far) confirmed cases have been described as being in critical condition, and one has been declared back to full health. As such, Friday’s cancellations and advice can feel drastic.

There are a number of reasons behind the measures, authorities including the police, DHA and Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Friday.

One is the potential impact on the country’s economy of widespread illness.

“The measures have been chosen to limit the spread of infection and to mitigate the consequences for society as a whole. This is a virus that we can expect to have major consequences for businesses and consequences for the economy,” Frederiksen said.

Events with large attendances increase the rate of spread of infections because of the close proximity of large numbers of people, the PM also said.

Although DHA says it expects Denmark’s infection numbers to further increase, measures can be taken to prevent the extent of infection, the authority’s director Søren Brostrøm said at a press briefing reported by DR.

Frederiksen meanwhile stressed that she would “rather our authorities go a step too far than a step too short” in introducing rules, advice and precautions.

“This is not an overreaction. With the overall situation we are seeing with infections, it is authorities' clear assessment that all that can be done must be done now. If we wait, we risk being too late,” the PM said.

“Experience from other disease situations has shown that it is effective to intervene early,” Brostrøm said.

The coronavirus situation in Denmark remains less serious than in other countries, but you can keep up to date with the latest news via this article, which also includes official guidelines on the everyday precautions you can take and what to do if you have travelled to outbreak areas or are concerned about symptoms. The article will be updated on an ongoing basis.

We are keeping the article paywall-free, which means it will remain open to new or occasional readers. An explanation of this decision can be found at the bottom of the article.

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”