UPDATE: Denmark drops push to get citizens to report coronavirus suspects

The Danish Patient Safety Authority on Tuesday removed a secure email it had set up where Danes could report on those they suspected of coronavirus infections, following a media outcry.

UPDATE: Denmark drops push to get citizens to report coronavirus suspects
Danish chief of police Thorkild Fogde has said that police will enforce the health authorities' orders. Photo: Philip Davale/Scanpix
Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said that the reporting system, which was first reported about on Tuesday, was too much of an infringement of human rights. 
“I became aware of this this morning,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “It was an initiative of [Patient Safety] Authority. We had told the authority that they should do everything they can. But here they went too far in relation to the freedom of citizens.” 
The reporting system was set up as part of the new enforcement powers granted to health authorities under the emergency law rushed through the Danish parliament on March 12. 
On the front page of the website of the Danish Patient Safety Authority, there was a section, now removed, which asked citizens: “Are you worried about the behaviour of an individual believed or presumed infected with Covid-19?”. 
Those who clicked on the banner were taken to another page where it told Danes how to report fellow citizens to the authority. 
“If an injunction is not followed, the Danish Patient Safety Authority can, if necessary, call on police assistance to enforce the injunction,” the text explains. 
The website then contained a link to a secure mailbox where citizens could send reports through their, or e-Boks accounts.  “This ensures that unauthorised persons cannot read the content,” the website reads. 
Under the March 12 law, the Danish Patient Safety Authority can order anyone to stay home in self-isolation, to go to hospital, or to take a test, even if they do not wish to do so. 
Anyone showing coronavirus symptoms, who has been in contact with someone who shows coronavirus symptoms, or who has even been in an area where the virus is at large, can be reported, and then issued an injunction if the authority deems it necessary. 

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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.”