Danish ruling party surges after tough coronavirus actions

The Danish government has been rewarded for its rapid and far-reaching moves to slow the spread of coronavirus and cushion the country's economy, with a near five percent surge in opinion polls.

Danish ruling party surges after tough coronavirus actions
Danish Prime Minister Metter Frederiksen in Denmark's parliament last week. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix
In the latest opinion poll by Voxmeter for the Ritzau newswire, the Danish Social Democratic party had the support of 31.5 percent of voters, up 4.7 percent in a single week, and the highest share of voting intentions the party has enjoyed since October 2006. 
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has taken tough actions, banning gatherings of more than ten people, shutting restaurants, bars, shops and sports facilities, and even closing Denmark's borders against the recommendations of its own public health agency (Sundhedsstyrelsen). 
“If we have to wait for full evidence to fight the corona, then it is my clear conviction that we will be too late,” Frederiksen said in a speech, explaining why her government decided to go so far so fast, even when there was little medical evidence to support decisions. 
According to Anna Christensen Research Director at Voxmeter, the Danish population overwhelmingly supports the government's approach, with 85.2 percent saying that they have confidence in the handling of the crisis, and only four percent saying they did not. 
“We can see that the popularity of the prime minister's and the government's handling of the crisis is very, very high,” she told The Local. “It's almost the entire population that supports it.” 
So far, Denmark's tougher approach has not resulted in a lower death tally than in light-touch Sweden next door. 
The country's SSI health agency reported that there had so far been 72 coronavirus deaths on Saturday, or twelve per million of population. This compared to 110, or ten per million of population, in Sweden.

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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.”