Could face masks become compulsory in Denmark?

Could face masks become compulsory in Denmark?
People wearing face masks at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Aalborg on June 9th. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark is yet to follow the growing list of countries requiring public use of face masks.

European countries including France and the United Kingdom have increased regulation requiring face masks to be worn in public spaces, while Australian city Melbourne has responded to a local spike in coronavirus cases by making in compulsory for masks to be worn outside of homes.

Denmark has a total of 20 people currently admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and registered 49 new cases in the 24 hours prior to the most recent update from national infectious disease centre SSI, published Friday afternoon.

No laws have yet been introduced in Denmark making the use of masks compulsory, but that may change in the coming months, according to one expert.

“When the spread of infection begins to increase in Denmark, as is expected, I think we will also begin to see recommendations on the use of face masks here. That is my expectation,” professor of infectious disease at Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet Jens Lundgren told national broadcaster DR.

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Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has recently been photographed using a face mask in public and the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) recently changed its recommendations on the use of face masks, advising them for travelling home from areas considered high-risk or on the way to being tested for coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen arrives for the EU summit on a coronavirus recovery package at the European Council building in Brussels on July 19th. Photo: John Thys/AFP/Ritzau ScanpixInfection rates are currently low in Denmark, but a second wave of the virus could hit the country after the summer.

 

Lundgren told DR that researchers now know more about the effectiveness of face mask use against coronavirus spread than they did at the beginning of the outbreak.

As such, the use of the item in places such as on public transport or in shops in Denmark is a viable option for later in the year, he told the broadcaster.

“Generally, there is no reason to use a mask, but it makes sense in places where many people are gathered inside,” he said.

The World Health Organization last month changed its official recommendations on the use of face masks last month and now advises their use in places where it is difficult to maintain a distance from others.

Although Danish health authorities are yet to replicate those guidelines, new Danish Health Authority advice published earlier this month does take a more open position on using face masks than previously seen in Denmark.

Major Danish research into the effects of wearing face mask is expected to be published in the near future, DR reports.

One reason the country has been reticent over the protective item up to now is concern that it could detract from an emphasis on keeping distance and good hand hygiene.

“If people move closer together and forget the rules for good hygiene, we’ll be no better off,” DR quotes University of Copenhagen professor of immunology Jan Pravsgaard Christensen, in earlier comments.


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