Denmark announces new restrictions as coronavirus cases increase

Restrictions are to be implemented in 18 Danish municipalities including a reduction in the assembly limit from 100 to 50 people.

Denmark announces new restrictions as coronavirus cases increase
Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The announcement comes as 230 new cases of Covid-19 were registered by the State Serum Institute (SSI) on Monday, a continuation of an uptick in cases that began in the last week of August.

The three days from Friday to Monday saw a total of 566 new cases, SSI confirmed on Monday.

The number of hospitalised patients also saw a sharp increase in relative terms, moving from 18 to 29. Three people are currently in intensive care, with two on ventilators.

Nationally, over 1,000 cases have been recorded during the last week, the highest number since the spring. New cases have been detected in 82 of Denmark’s 98 municipalities, DR reports.

Copenhagen and Odense are among the 18 municipalities where the new restrictions will take effect. The remaining 16 municipalities all border or are part of greater Copenhagen: Frederiksberg, Tårnby, Dragør, Hvidovre, Brøndby, Vallensbæk, Ishøj, Rødovre, Glostrup, Albertslund, Høje-Taastrup, Gentofte, Gladsaxe, Ballerup, Herlev and Lyngby-Taarbæk.

In addition to the reduction of the number of people who may assemble in one place, new restrictions will be placed on bars, cafes and restaurants.

These establishments will now be required to close at midnight instead of 2am, as is the current national rule.

Odense and the Copenhagen area will also be excluded from plans to extend current provisions allowing fans to attend sports matches.

Health minister Magnus Heunicke called the current situation with the virus “the most concerning situation since the spring” at a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

The government has also requested schools, educational institutions and universities cancel all social activities.

Due to legal process, the restrictions will not take force until Wednesday, but the government has asked people in the relevant areas to begin following them immediately.

Copenhagen currently has an infection rate of 40 people per 100,000 residents for the last 7 days. However, cases in the capital are spread geographically.

That contrasts somewhat with Odense, where the outbreak has been linked to social activities at educational institutions.

53 new cases of Covid-19 in Copenhagen were registered on Monday, with 19 cases in Odense.

Heunicke rejected suggestions that infections were reaching an uncontrollable level and said that the restrictions represented “early response”.

Danish Patient Safety Authority director Anette Lykke Petri said meanwhile that 30 new cases of the virus had been traced to a single birthday party, DR reports.

Copenhagen Lord Mayor Frank Jensen encouraged young people in the city not to attend large parties and gatherings.

“Don’t go looking for these parties. Don’t go to them. You can be young, you can have a party, but don’t look for large parties,” Jensen said.

READ ALSO: Denmark to test people with and without Covid-19 symptoms at the same place

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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.”