Face masks still not necessary in Denmark: health agency director

Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm, a key figure in the country’s coronavirus epidemic response, says that general wearing of face masks is not necessary in Denmark at present.

Face masks still not necessary in Denmark: health agency director
Søren Brostrøm, the head of the Danish Health Authority. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

Wearing face masks on public transport, in shops or in other public places is not necessary in Denmark at the current time, Brostrøm stated in an interview with national broadcaster DR.

“Face masks do not make sense in the current situation where we still have very low infection spread in Denmark,” Brostrøm said.

READ ALSO: Are coronavirus cases increasing in Denmark?

“But could it make sense in the longer term, when we move closer together on public transport and in other situations? That is naturally something we must assess,” he added.

A number of commentators in Denmark have recently discussed the issue of whether Denmark may follow other European countries such as Italy, Francy, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom in making face masks mandatory in specified situations.

Last week, Thomas Benfield, a consultant doctor and professor of infectious disease at Hvidovre Hospital near Copenhagen, said a requirement to wear face masks could be introduced in Denmark in the autumn.

“If the beginnings of an outbreak could be seen and it was not under control, or there was a common element, then a face mask requirement could be introduced,” Benfield told Ritzau.


Danish health authorities changed official advice on the use of face masks relating to the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this month.

The updated guidelines from the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) 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.


In June, The World Health Organisation in June updated its recommendations over face masks, recommending governments ask health members of the public wear non-medical face masks in areas where the virus is being transmitted to the community, if it is difficult to keep social distance, or in crowded areas such as on public transport. 

Brostrøm also said in the DR interview that he did not consider Denmark to be currently experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections.

“I think it is more correct to say we still have the epidemic under control. We are still in the middle of it, maybe even in the first wave still,” he said.

“We have only managed to hold it down, but now we’re beginning to see a little bit of a flare up again. We will monitor this, including in regard to whether new measures should be introduced,” he added.



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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.”