Denmark extends Covid-19 restrictions as new cases in Copenhagen drop

Health minister Magnus Heunicke said on Wednesday that Denmark’s coronavirus situation is “going in the right direction” while extending current restrictions until the end of the month.

Denmark extends Covid-19 restrictions as new cases in Copenhagen drop
Officials at Wednesday's briefing wore new badges promoting social distancing. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

At a press briefing on Wednesday, officials praised the effect of public efforts with current restrictions, while confirming they would be extended to October 31st.

Face masks must therefore still be worn at all times on public transport and when standing in cafes and restaurants. Cafes and bars must close at 10pm and no more than 50 people may assemble at any one time.

The restrictions putting into place restrictions on assembly limits, cafes and nightlife have been in place since mid-September, while stepped up face mask recommendations were announced more recently.

Daily new cases of Covid-19 have stabilised at under 400 for the last five days, after reaching towards 600 and sometimes 700 in the latter part of last month.

On Wednesday, 331 new positive tests for Covid-19 were registered by the national State Serum Institute (SSI). 116 people are currently in hospital with the virus, 8 fewer than yesterday.

The reproduction rate or R-number for Denmark is currently 0.8, have been above 1 for several weeks. If the reproduction rate is higher than 1.0, the number of infected in a society will grow. If it is slightly below, the number will decline. 

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

Heunicke said on Wednesday that cases in Copenhagen, one of the hotspots for the September wave, were notably on the way down.

“The trend is clear. There is a decrease in our capital,” he said according to DR.

Copenhagen Municipality has seen its rate of infections drop from 127 infections per 100,000 residents to 63 infections per 100,000 residents over the last week, the broadcaster reports.

Neighbouring Frederiksberg Municipality has seen a similar improvement, from 144 infections per 100,000 residents to 36 infections per 100,000 residents.

Authorities stressed the need to keep that trend steady and have therefore decided to keep the current national restrictions in place until the end of the month.

The Danish Health Authority recommends limiting social contacts during the upcoming autumn holidays, deputy director Helene Probst said at the briefing.

“We recommend that you take a break from everyday life, have fun at home and play board games” or take a walk in a nature spot, Probst said.

The general situation with the virus can quickly be changed by as much as a single party with a lot of virus transmissions, SSI technical director Kåre Mølbak said.

“We have an epidemic that can quickly pick up speed again, especially if there is a super-spreader event,” Mølbak said.

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.”