Coronavirus: What is the current situation with infection figures in Denmark?

The reproduction rate for Covid-19 in Denmark is stable, according to the country’s infectious disease agency, despite an increase in the proportion of tests returning positive results.

Coronavirus: What is the current situation with infection figures in Denmark?
Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The State Serum Institute (SSI) said on Tuesday that Denmark’s reproduction rate for the coronavirus is currently at 1.0, meaning spread of infections in the country is stable.

Although it was reported earlier this month to have fallen to 0.8, it was as high as 1.6 in September.

If the reproduction rate or R-number is above 1.0, the number of infected in a society will grow because each infected person will pass on the virus to an average of more than one other person. If the R-number is slightly below 1.0, the number will decline. 

The number is calculated based on the rate of hospitalisations and confirmed virus cases.

News that Denmark’s R-number is not over 1.0 may be welcomed given that an increase has recently been observed in the proportion of tests which return positive results.

On Tuesday, 529 new cases of the coronavirus were registered by SSI from 37,028 cases, corresponding to a positive rate of 1.4 percent. The figure of 529 is the highest daily total since October 2nd.

READ ALSO: Danish coronavirus tests return more positive cases

The increase in the proportion of positive cases has drawn comment from Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

“This is concerning, and it is our impression that we are going into a more serious phase,” Frederiksen said on Tuesday.

The figure is an important metric in assessing the level of the situation, according to Thea Kølsen Fischer, a professor in viral epidemics and infections at the University of Copenhagen and head of research at Nordsjællands Hospital.

“When the percentage of positive tests can be observed to rise as it is now over several weeks, that is not a sign we are heading towards a good place in the epidemic,” Fischer said.

“It indicates that, for example, guidelines are not working as intended or are not being complied with,” she said.

A total of 128 patients are currently admitted to Danish hospitals with coronavirus.

That reflects a gradual increase over the last few weeks.

“Looking at the last couple of weeks, we have seen a slight increase in the number of (Covid-19) hospitalisations in Denmark,” Fischer noted.

“(This is) not something that is pushing the health service's capacity at the moment, but it is a trend we would prefer to slow down,” she said.

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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.”