Danish coronavirus tests return more positive cases

The proportion of coronavirus tests in Denmark that return positive results has increased in recent days. The country’s health minister has expressed concern.

Danish coronavirus tests return more positive cases
File photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

On Thursday last week, 454 positive tests were registered by the national infectious disease agency SSI. That is not an unusual daily total when set in the context of Denmark’s infection numbers in September and October – but it came from just 34,847 tests, notably lower than testing numbers in past weeks.

Denmark regularly saw around 50,000 tests carried out daily in September.

“We are finding a relatively high number of infections at the moment. In the last week, a larger proportion of the people we are testing have tested positive for corona,” the health minister, Magnus Heunicke, wrote on social media.

“The level we are currently seeing with regard to the percentage of positive tests is the highest we’ve seen for a long time. That trend concerns me,” he continued.

Heunicke cited specifically the figures from last Thursday as reflecting the increased in proportion of positive tests.

One explanation could be that fewer people presented for testing during last week – when many took autumn leave throughout the country – and that testing was subsequently more focused.

While Thursday’s numbers correspond to a 1.3 percent positive rate for the day’s testing, the most recent figures from Sunday show 451 confirmed new cases from 31,562 tests – a 1.4 percent positive rate.

Heunicke stressed the importance of following hygiene and social distancing guidelines so that Denmark can maintain a stable level of infection spread and avoid the need for partial or local lockdowns currently seen in a number of other countries in Europe.

“We must remember to keep a distance. We must remember to stay at home if we have symptoms of coronavirus,” he wrote.

The highest raw daily total of detected cases in Denmark came on September 25th, when 678 new positive tests were registered.

The reproduction rate of the virus, a measure of the rate of its spread, was reported to reach 1.5 last month but has since fallen. Last week it was reported to be at 1.0.

October has seen daily totals for new cases range between 290 and 536.

READ ALSO: Why Denmark is culling millions of minks due to coronavirus

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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.”