Coronavirus: Danish government calls for end to hoarding

Denmark's government has called on people to stop hoarding food and other essentials after supermarkets were hit by a sudden rush on Wednesday night.

Coronavirus: Danish government calls for end to hoarding
Shoppers in Ringsted. Photo. A collage of empty shelves in Danish supermarkets after a spate of hoarding on Wednesday night. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Scanpix
“We encourage people to shop normally and to follow the current advice,” Food Minister Mogens Jensen said at a press meeting on Thursday morning.  “There is no problem with the security of supply at our stores, but there is a problem with hoarding.” 
Following the announcement of far-reaching measures to slow the spread of coronavirus on Wednesday night, supermarkets across Denmark faced an onslaught of shoppers, stripping the shelves of some items. 
The panic to secure supplies was so intense that police were called to a branch of Netto in Odense on the island of Funen, and to a supermarket in southern Jutland where a group of customers refused to leave at closing time, according to Denmark's state broadcaster DR.  
A collage of empty shelves in Danish supermarkets after a spate of hoarding on Wednesday night. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Scanpix. 
Danish Twitter was on Wednesday night and Thursday morning filled with images of supermarket queues and empty shelves. 
The country's leading supermarkets, Salling Group, Coop, Dagrofa and Rema 1000, on Wednesday a joint press release assuring consumers that they had adequate supplies of all products, asking them not to change their shopping habits. 
“We will all throughout the supermarket industry make sure that we remain continuously stocked,” Dagrofa said in a tweet. 
Simon Kollerup, Denmark's Minister for Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, on Thursday urged “calm and sanity”. 
“The government is in close contact with the retailers and the government, and the message from the supermarkets is clear: The shops are open as usual,” he told the Ritzau newswire. “There are items in stock and the trucks are operating as normal. There are enough goods for everyone.” 

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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.”