UPDATE: Coronavirus cases in Denmark hit 340 after overnight spike

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases registered in Denmark has risen by close to a third, with 78 new patients diagnosed overnight.

UPDATE: Coronavirus cases in Denmark hit 340 after overnight spike
Residents at the Hørgården old people's home have been confined to their rooms after a member of staff tested positive to the virus. Photo: Google Maps
The Danish Patient Safety Authority (Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed) announced on Wednesday at 10.00am 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.
This followed an earlier rise from 156 cases on Tuesday morning. 
The dramatic new figures came as Aarhus municipality announced that a member of staff at one of its nursing homes had tested positive for the virus, with six of the home's vulnerable elderly people a showing signs of infection. 
At the same time schools and kindergartens across Denmark on Wednesday started to announce that they would close their door after pupils, staff or their relatives tested positive. 
Aarhus municipality said that it had taken immediate action to protect residents at the Hørgården home. 
“As soon as we became aware of this, we contacted the emergency hotline and put in place several measures to protect our residents and employees,” said Vibeke Dahmen, deputy manager for the municipality's northern district, said in a press release on Tuesday evening. 
“It was an employee on the night shift, who had been at work for several nights in which they may have infected residents. For that reason, all residents will now be confined to their own lodgings.” 
“All relatives have been contacted immediately and urged not to visit the residents due to suspected coronavirus, and this also applies to all other appointments the residents have, such as with hairdressers, podiatrists etc.” 
Maribo School on the island of Lolland on Wednesday morning announced it was sending 329 pupils home for a fortnight after a pupil was found to have the virus, although the pupils' parents will not need to be quarantined. 
The Hyldebærhuset kindergarten in Næstved also announced it was closing, after a grandparent of one of the 41 children there tested positive. 
Malling school in Aarhus was closed on Wednesday, and will also remain closed for a fortnight, after two people at the school came down with the infection. 
Rysensteen Gymnasium in Copenhagen had already announced its decision to close after two pupils tested positive. 
Meanwhile, everyone was at a drinks event for medical students at the Panum Institute at the University of Copenhagen on Friday night has also been requested to stay home for a fortnight, after one of the guests tested positive. 

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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.”