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SAS resumes flights to China after eight-month coronavirus hiatus

Almost eight months and an ongoing global pandemic after suspending services, direct SAS flights to Shanghai are set to resume on September 29th, the company has confirmed following approval from Chinese authorities.

SAS resumes flights to China after eight-month coronavirus hiatus
A SAS flight over Russia in 2017. Photo: Vibeke Toft/Ritzau Scanpix

Scandinavian airline SAS suspended flights to China on January 31st due to fears that the novel coronavirus could spread outside of the Asian country.

“With the reopening of the route, SAS is aiming to meet demand for business travel and air freight services between Scandinavia and China,” the company said in a statement.

Due to ongoing uncertainty regarding restrictions and potential changes in travel advice, SAS is offering travellers the option to change a planned journey or ticket for a SAS Travel Voucher up to 16 days prior to departure. This applies to all international travel until January 15th.

READ ALSO: SAS airline vows to refund passengers after criticism from Swedish consumer agency

While the January 31st suspension applied to direct flights to both Shanghai and Beijing, the service to the Chinese capital is still awaiting approval and is not expected to resume until the end of October.

SAS stockholders earlier this week approved a rescue package providing billions of kroner in relief to the airline, which is struggling due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

The package, worth 8.5 million Danish kroner, is primarily funded by the Danish and Swedish states.

At the time of writing, SAS is currently operating services to 75 destinations. Prior to the pandemic, the airline served around 125 destinations from Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen.

August 2020 saw 74 percent fewer passengers on SAS flights compared to the same month in 2019.

 

 

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COVID-19

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.” 

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