Danish agency: pandemic to 'die out' even with more opening

The Local Denmark
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Danish agency: pandemic to 'die out' even with more opening
People will be able to return to Copenhagen Zoo as long as they keep their distance. Photo. Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark's infectious diseases agency has said the country can safely open up shops, restaurants, upper secondary schools, and workplaces -- so long as people continue to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines.


In  an expert report published on Wednesday ahead of a parliamentary debate on the next stage of reopening, Statens Serum Institute (SSI) reports that its models predict that the epidemic will gradually fade away on its own --- even with some further loosening of restrictions. 
"The models show that if the current level of restrictions continue, the burden on hospitals will be low and the epidemic can be expected to slowly die out," the report reads. 
It continues: "The epidemic is also expected to die out in the reopening scenario corresponding to the 'foundation block', provided physical distance and hygiene measures are maintained." 


This so-called 'foundation block' of measures includes the opening up clothes shops, shopping malls, libraries, zoos and botanical gardens, relaunching professional sports competitions without spectators, and allowing critical areas of the public sector to return to work. 
If Denmark's political parties go further, it adds, and decide to open up schools or pupils up to the age of 18, reopen restaurants and cafés, and let everyone else return to work, it does not expect a second wave of cases. 
Instead, in this scenario, the number in hospital with coronavirus will stay below 500, meaning the health service is unlikely to be overwhelmed. 
"If social distancing and hygiene measures are maintained, the model shows that the number of total inpatients hospitalised with Covid-19 will continue to be lower than 500 up until the end of the simulated time interval, on July 1, 2020," the report reads. 
"In addition, our model shows that the number in intensive care in that scenario will continue to stay under 100 until the end of the simulated time interval." 
The new report opens the way for Denmark's political parties to agree on a significant relaxation of restrictions.
But doing so will mean trusting the population to follow social distancing guidelines. 
"If social distancing and hygiene measures are reduced by 50 percent or 100 percent, the number of hospitalised rises significantly towards the end of the simulated time interval. The same applies to the number in intensive care," it warns. 
In this scenario, the graphs in the modelling, show the number hospitalised hitting 1,500, with at least 200 people in intensive care. 
"It is of crucial importance for the spread of infection the extent to which the population maintains physical distance and follows hygiene recommendations," the agency writes. 
"It's hard to predict, the extent to which this will continue to be the case," it added. "It can be expected that the behaviour of the population will to some extent follow the evolution of the epidemic in such a way that physical distance will decrease after a period of low transmission." 



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