Danish health expert does not recommend further reopening due to increase in Covid-19 cases

Epidemiologist Kåre Mølbak, the director of Danish infectious disease institute SSI, says he does not support reopening more of the country given currently coronavirus infection levels.

Danish health expert does not recommend further reopening due to increase in Covid-19 cases
Kåre Mølbak. File photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases in recent weeks contraindicate a relaxation of current rules, the SSI director suggested in comments given to both Ingeniøren and DR.

“My professional assessment is that is very difficult to envisage health-based arguments in favour of a further opening when we can see that infections have increased in recent weeks,” he told DR.

SSI is the national agency for infectious disease research in Denmark and contributes health advice to the government's Covid-19 response.

“There is a big risk associated with [reopening], and whether that risk should be taken from a political point of view should be considered politically,” the director told Ingeniøren.

Next weekend will see limits on gathering increase from 100 to 200 people as part of phase three of Denmark’s planned reopening. Politicians are scheduled to meet on August 12th to set out the terms of phase 4 – the final phase of the planned reopening.

Mølbak did not say whether or not he agreed with going through with the increase to 200 people for gatherings.


“It is necessary to also make political considerations in that regard. It depends how much you raise (the limit) and on the type of gatherings. But my assessment is that it is not the natural choice to go through with it,” he said.

Phase includes provisions for nightlife establishments to reopen. This aspect was cited by Mølbak as potentially problematic.

“It is in exactly these situations that we have experienced infections occur, because people are typically with others whom they do not know,” he said.

“That means people they have not previously had contact with. Furthermore, there’s a certain loss of control when people drink and go out at night,” he added.

Recent increasing numbers of new infections form the background for the comments given by Mølbak.

“It is actually throughout July that we have seen increasing incidence of Covid-19,” he said.

READ ALSO: Weekend figures show rise in Danish coronavirus cases


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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.”