Are more people in Denmark going to wear face masks?

Demand for face masks in Denmark has ticked upwards despite the low current level of coronavirus spread in the country, after health authorities changed official advice on the item.

Are more people in Denmark going to wear face masks?
Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

New recommendations from the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen), published Friday, advise the use of face masks in the country in certain circumstances, including when travelling home from areas considered high-risk or on the way to being tested for coronavirus.

As of Friday, the authority recommends using face masks in certain special situations, bringing the policy in Denmark closer to that of other European countries such as France and Germany.

According to its new advice to those who have tested positive, those in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and those with symptoms, the authority recommends people use face masks if they are forced to leave self-isolation. 

“Use a face mask if you break self-isolation to go out to take a test,” the health authority states, linking to a guide for correctly using masks. 

READ ALSO: Danish health agency drops opposition to face masks

Face masks have a relatively rare sight in public areas in Denmark throughout the coronavirus epidemic in the country, although they have been mandatory within the country's airports since June 15th. 

But there is evidence that will change as a result of the new recommendations.

“Friday was the single day for which we had the highest face mask sales. We sold around 8,000,” said Klaus Fridorf, head of communications with health and beauty retail chain Matas.


Matas stores have sold around 5,000-7,000 face masks per week since the coronavirus came to Denmark, although sales have begun to increase as the school summer holiday approaches.

The week of June 22nd-28th saw around 25,000 face masks sold by Matas, either in its physical stores or online. That total increased to 41,500 two weeks later, news agency Ritzau reports.

Salling Group, which owns the Netto, Bilka and Føtex supermarket chains in Denmark, told Ritzau that “more and more” face masks had been sold in recent weeks but declined to release sales figures.

Denmark currently has 18 people hospitalised with coronavirus throughout the country, according to the latest figures from national infectious disease institute SSI. Six of the 18 are receiving treatment in an intensive care unit.

A total of 13,037 positive tests for coronavirus have been recorded since the pandemic reached Denmark in February this year. Over 1.2 million tests have been carried out.

In the three days prior to the release of Monday’s updated figures, 91 tests for coronavirus came back positive.

Denmark has recorded 610 deaths with coronavirus at the time of writing.

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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.”