Is Denmark’s parliament at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak?

An increasing number of Danish lawmakers, including several ministers and a party leader, have tested positive for coronavirus.

Is Denmark’s parliament at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak?
A near-empty chamber at the Christiansborg parliament on November 3rd. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

Editor's note: this article previously incorrectly stated five Danish ministers had tested positive for Covid-19. They were, in fact, in isolation after close contact to a confirmed case, but had not tested positive themselves. The error has been corrected.


In addition to a number of confirmed cases, several other elected politicians are now isolating due to close contact with the virus, according to reports by news wire Ritzau and broadcaster DR.

Members of parliament to been in isolation after close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case in the last two days now include Social Democratic ministers Peter Hummelgaard (employment), Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil (children and education), Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen (higher education and science), Lea Wermelin (environment) and Mogens Jensen (food). None have reported having symptoms.

Minister of Justice Nick Hækkerup is in home quarantine after experiencing symptoms and is awaiting a test result.

Another Social Democratic MP, Jeppe Bruus, has also tested positive for the virus.

Other party representatives have not been spared the apparent outbreak at the parliament.

Søren Pape Poulsen, the former justice minister who leads the Conservative party, has tested positive for Covid-19, his party confirmed on Tuesday. Fellow Conservative Egil Hulgaard has also been reported to have contracted the virus.

The most serious report regarding infected Danish politicians concerns Lars Christian Lilleholt of the Liberal (Venstre) party. Lilleholt, a former minister who is now the Liberal defence spokesperson, has been admitted to the University Hospital in Odense with pneumonia after testing positive for coronavirus and has been given the experimental treatment Remdesivir, he confirmed in a social media post.

A parliamentary questions session with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled as a result of the outbreak.

Frederiksen has also confirmed, via a statement, that she and Hækkerup last week attended meetings with other lawmakers who have since tested positive for coronavirus.

Søren Pind, a former member of parliament with the Liberal party who left politics in 2018, suggested that parliamentary procedures should be adapted to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks.

“Perhaps – very carefully suggested – Parliament should rethink consultations and votes. Not by not having them. But the way they take place. Disease is every man’s master,” Pind wrote.

READ ALSO: Denmark's extended face mask requirement takes effect: These are the rules you need to know

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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.”