Danish government faces questions over delayed Covid-19 testing

Denmark has upscaled its testing numbers in recent weeks as authorities responded to an increase in new coronavirus cases, but waits of several days for a test have now been reported.

Danish government faces questions over delayed Covid-19 testing
Photo: Tim Kildeborg Jensen/Ritzau Scanpix

An agreement reached by parliamentary parties last week outlined the wish for faster access to testing and faster turnaround of results.

“A clear goal is for 80 percent to have a test within 24 hours and for 80 percent to receive the result of their test the following day,” the agreement stated.

READ ALSO: Here’s what you need to know about Denmark’s 'phase four' reopening

But newspaper Berlingske has this week reported waits of up to four days for testing in some parts of Copenhagen.

That has resulted in leading members of the opposition Liberal party writing to health minister Magnus Heunicke to express their concern over Denmark’s testing capacity.

The head of Dansk Regioner, the national group for the regional health authorities has said that progress was being made towards the targets.

“In the last 14 days alone we have increased the number of tests by 70 percent and we are now testing over 35,000 Danes every day. We have actually conducted more than two million tests since the outbreak of corona,” Stephanie Lose, an elected official from the Liberal Party, told news agency Ritzau via email.

“We are still working full time to further increase our test capacity so that we can take more swabs and we can analyse more tests. That is being done in very close coordination with state authorities,” Lose said.

“Most people can get a quick test from today and three out of four are getting a result in the course of a good day or so. Overall I am hopeful that we can achieve the targets from the political agreement together,” Lose wrote.

READ ALSO: New Danish Covid-19 cases back under 100: could figure be sign of downward trend?


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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.”