Coronavirus: New Danish cases at lowest level for one month, R-number back below 1

After a month of increasing Covid-19 cases, the number of newly-registered positive tests for coronavirus in Denmark has fallen in recent days.

Coronavirus: New Danish cases at lowest level for one month, R-number back below 1
Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

The 322 new cases recorded by the national infectious diseases agency State Serum Institute (SSI) on Tuesday is the lowest figure since September 11th.

There is a caveat to the number: the volume of testing has fallen off slightly since the beginning of October.

Tuesday’s daily update from SSI shows that 39,326 tests were conducted over the last 24 hours. The second half of September saw an average of around 50,000 tests carried out daily.

Health minister Magnus Heaunicke tweeted that the reproduction rate or R-number for Denmark has now dipped below 1.0.

If the reproduction rate is above 1.0, that means the number of infected in a society will grow. If it is slightly below, the number will decline. 

“The reproduction rate in Denmark is now 0.8. Thank you to everyone who does their bit every day to break the chains of (virus) transmission,” Heunicke said.

“The virus is still here, so it’s crucial we keep it up,” he added.

Health authorities have stepped up face mask recommendations and restrictions on assembly limits and nightlife are among the measures taken in response to Denmark's recent increase in coronavirus cases.

The nightlife and assembly restrictions, initially in place until October 4th, have since been extended to October 18th.

Hospitalisations with the virus in Denmark are increasing at the current time, despite evidence of slowing infection rates.

The 124 patients currently admitted to Danish hospitals with coronavirus is the most since May 20th, but remains far from the spring peak of over 500 hospitalised patients.

Four new Covid-19 deaths were registered by SSI in Tuesday’s update. 663 people have now died due to the virus in Denmark since the beginning of the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Don't go trick or treating on Halloween this year, says Danish health service

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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.”