Denmark says easing lockdown has not caused increase in Covid-19 infections

Denmark says easing lockdown has not caused increase in Covid-19 infections
Pupils take their seats in the stands, keeping the social distances, before an open-air-class held at the Telia Parken stadium due to the new coronavirus pandemic on May 15, 2020 in Copenhagen. AFP
Denmark, the first country in Europe to relax its coronavirus lockdown said on Wednesday that the spread of Covid-19 has not accelerated since it eased restrictions and began the second phase of reopening society last month.

“The level of contagion in society is still very low,” the Danish health authority said in a report in Wednesday, according to Reuters news agency.

It added that the number of confirmed new infections had continued to fall despite more tests being carried out.

In April Denmark became the first country to reopen its schools and daycare centres and the following month bars and restaurants and shopping centres were allowed to resume business.

“There is no sign yet of noticeable changes in the extent of contagion despite the gradual reopening of society in April and early May,” the report said.

In its report, the agency calculated that Denmark's 'R number' for the coronavirus pandemic had risen to 1.0 over the last week from a low of 0.7 estimated on May 18. 

But Jens Lundgren, a  professor of infectious medicine at Copenhagen's leading hospital Rigshospitalet, said that the rise in the R number, which describes the number of people each infected person on average goes on to infect, was less significant when the level of overall infection in society was so low. 

“There's nothing dangerous about this. It is an indication that the infection is very low,” he told the Ritzau newswire. “I think you have to stop using concepts like reproduction number for the present. Right now, it's fine to have a reproduction number of 1.0 ” 

On Monday the Danish government raised the maximum limit on pubic gatherings to 50 from 10 and allowed gyms and swimming pools to reopen.

READ ALSO: How did Denmark get its schools reopen so soon after lockdown?

 
Denmark's political parties also struck a deal to increase the maximum allowed gathering to 100 in July month and then 200 in August.
 
Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup warned that the staged increases on July 8 and August 8 would only go ahead “if everything continues to go well” and the level of infection in Denmark remains at the current low level. 
 
“Because we have to remember that this all hangs completely on us all together following the health authorities' guidelines: Keeping distance; washing hands often; looking out for one another,” he said in a statement released after the deal was struck. 
 
“If we see that the epidemic is starting to blow up again, the increased size of gathering is the first thing we'll look at.”


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