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COVID-19

Denmark steps up coronavirus face mask recommendations

The Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) has updated the list of places and situations in which it says face masks should be worn.

Denmark steps up coronavirus face mask recommendations
Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Restrictions have been increased for situations where it is difficult to maintain social distance, with particular focus on health and elderly care, the authority said in a statement on Monday.

Increased face mask used is aimed at reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission in situations in which it is not possible to maintain a social distance.

“Infection is currently increasing across the country, and we are also seeing increased infections at care homes and hospitals,” the health authority statement read.

Some hospitals have sent staff home from work as a result of outbreaks within departments, it added.

In order to “prevent further spread of infection”, recommendations for use of face masks would now be extended to “situations with close contact including situations in which no infections or suspected infections with coronavirus have been detected,” it confirmed.

The recommendations apply to both health care personnel and members of the public.

“We are now recommending as an extra precaution that staff, patients and the public use face masks in treatment and care situations, such as at hospitals, care homes and at GPs’ surgeries,” Danish Health Authority deputy director Helene Probst said in the statement.

“That doesn’t mean everyone must wear a mask all the time. But in the situations where we are very close to each other, it can give extra protection and prevent possible (virus) transmission,” she said.

“If you are going to the doctor or the hospital for a test, take a face mask with you,” Probst added, noting that it should be worn in situations of close contact regardless of whether any potential infection was suspected.

“Patients and residents at nursing homes, hospitals and other care often have a greater risk of serious illness if they contract Covid-19. We are therefore paying close attention to protecting particularly vulnerable patients and others and we are doing this by tightening the recommendations for the use of protective equipment,” Helene Probst said.

The new guidelines replace the previous recommendations, which stated that healthcare staff should wear masks for close contact lasting over 15 minutes. Face masks are now recommended in all situations where it is not possible to keep the necessary social distance, Danish Health Authority said in the statement.

Danish Covid-19 guidelines define the distance as a minimum of 1 metre, 2 metres for contact with people known to be at increased risk of serious illness should they become infected with the coronavirus.

In addition to hospitals and doctors’ surgeries, the recommendations also apply to other healthcare situations requiring close contact, including physiotherapy, the health authority said.

If you are scheduled to go for treatment or are a visitor at a hospital or care home and are unsure of how the guidelines apply to you, the authority recommends you contact the relevant healthcare centre or facility in advance.

Monday saw 435 new cases of Covid-19 registered in Denmark as the State Serum Institute released its daily figures. The number is consistent with increased infections in recent weeks, although lower than the record 678 new infections registered on Friday.

110 people are currently hospitalised with Covid-19 in Denmark. 649 have lost their lives to the virus in Denmark since the beginning of the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Around Europe: How countries are battling to prevent a second wave of Covid-19

Member comments

  1. Denmark is behind the times medically with their information and Danish citizens seem bent on relying only on that information coming to them from their own country’s experts, ignoring the medical evidence and what’s worked in other countries. Face masks should be mandatory in all indoor public spaces, including shops and stores. At my summerhouse area near Aarhus, no one has been wearing masks except in the few situations where they have recently been prescribed. There is no apparent social distancing in grocery stores, waiters in restaurants speak directly into patron’s faces without masks. The virus most likely is spread in vapor form. Wearing masks definitely adds a significant layer of protection. “Necessary social distance” does not do so necessarily.

  2. Denmark is behind the times medically with their information and Danish citizens seem bent on relying only on that information coming to them from their own country’s experts, ignoring the medical evidence and what’s worked in other countries. Face masks should be mandatory in all indoor public spaces, including shops and stores. At my summerhouse area near Aarhus, no one has been wearing masks except in the few situations where they have recently been prescribed. There is no apparent social distancing in grocery stores, waiters in restaurants speak directly into patron’s faces without masks. The virus most likely is spread in vapor form. Wearing masks definitely adds a significant layer of protection. “Necessary social distance” does not do so necessarily.

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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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