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COVID-19

‘Increasingly concerned’ Denmark signals new coronavirus restrictions

Denmark’s health minister Magnus Heunicke has warned that the country will see new restrictions if Covid-19 infections do not slow in coming days.

'Increasingly concerned' Denmark signals new coronavirus restrictions
Health minister Magnus Heunicke. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Wednesday saw 630 new cases of the virus in Denmark, the second-highest ever daily total. The 630 cases came from 43,693 tests, a positive test rate of 1.4 percent.

READ ALSO: Danish coronavirus tests return more positive cases

Heunicke said the current situation with new confirmed cases was enough for authorities to consider intervention.

“The situation is such that we are seeing an increase (in cases) which is cause for strong concern. That, combined with developments in many European countries where some countries are reporting infections are out of control, means that now is the time (action) counts,” he said.

“The next two to three days will be decisive. I will not rule out any tightened restrictions or rules at all. We are following closely and authorities have increased alert levels,” he added.

Current restrictions in the Nordic country include a maximum assembly limit of 50 people and mandatory use of face masks on public transport and when standing in cafes and restaurants. Those measures are currently in place until October 31st.

“We are looking at the methods we know we know will work and that we see other countries are making use of,” Heunicke said.

“That means options such as reducing the assembly limit and of course the situation regarding face masks, where we in Denmark where face masks on public transport, at restaurants and at the doctor,” he continued.

READ ALSO: Denmark steps up coronavirus face mask recommendations

“We have the option of tightening things up there,” he said.

In a social media post, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen also said she was “increasingly concerned” about the situation in Denmark and that she “could not rule out” new restrictions in the near future.

The limit on the amount of people allowed to gather was reduced to 10 during the spring, but Heunicke declined to give a specific figure for a potential new limit.

“There’s a fair bit of debate in Denmark about how much we should open up. I understand that. Many of us dream about opening more up. But we’re not in that situation at all,” he said.

“There’s nowhere in Europe where that discussion’s being had. On the contrary, the infection numbers are going the wrong way in Europe, including in Denmark,” he stated.

Current restrictions also require cafes, bars and restaurants to close at 10pm. Guests must wear face masks when they are standing and when they go to the bar, but not while they are sitting.

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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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