Denmark soon to enter new ‘mitigation’ phase of coronavirus battle

Denmark is preparing to shift its coronavirus strategy from containment to mitigation, the Danish Health Authority announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

Denmark soon to enter new 'mitigation' phase of coronavirus battle
Bolette Søborg, Senior Consultant at the Danish Health Authority, said the shift was imminent. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Scanpix
This will mean a shift in focus from attempting to stop the infection coming to Denmark to one of slowing its spread internally, the Danish Health Authority announced at a press conference on Wednesday. 
“It could be soon,” Bolette Søborg, Senior Consultant at the Danish Health Authority, said as the shift was announced at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at Christiansborg, the seat of the Danish parliament. 
“We are not yet aware of all the people who are infected. There will be a dark number. But we have good control over it.”
The press conference brought together senior officials from the Danish Health Authority, the Danish Patient Safety Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Danish Business Authority, and the Danish Transport, Building and Housing Authority, and came after the announcement of a dramatic increase in the number of confirmed infections.
The leaders of six different national authorities briefed the press on the coronavirus situation on Wednesday. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix
The Danish Patient Safety Authority (Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed) announced at 10.00am on Wednesday that there were now 340 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, an increase of 30 percent on the 262 confirmed at 17.00pm on Tuesday.
Kåre Mølbak from the Statens Serum Institut, Denmark's national medical laboratory, said that the high apparent number of infections probably reflected the efficiency with which the country was uncovering cases. 
“Compared to other countries it might look severe. If you look at Sweden, Austria and now, we have had a more intense development,” he said. 
But he said that around 4,000 people in the country had already been tested, a higher number per capita than in most other countries.  
“We have an extremely good control of the situation. Over the next few days, we will announce a change in approach over who is to be tested,” he said, explaining that health authorities would soon stop concentrating testing on those who had travelled overseas. 
Carsten Falk Hansen from the Danish Transport, Building and Housing Authority said that Danes appeared to have been avoiding public transport voluntarily, helping to reduce the rate of transmission. 
Søborg recommended that as the elderly are at the highest risk of dying from the virus, they should not be asked to look after grandchildren who are off school sick.  
“It is certainly true that if you need to look after children who might have symptoms, then you should not ask grandparents or the elderly to look after them,” she said.

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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.”