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PARLIAMENT

Danish PM Frederiksen awaits result of coronavirus test

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has been tested for coronavirus and is currently in isolation, the Prime Minister's office confirmed in a statement on Wednesday morning.

Danish PM Frederiksen awaits result of coronavirus test
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The PM attended a meeting alongside Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup at the end of last week. Hækkerup, who said on Tuesday he was experiencing symptoms and awaiting a test result, has now confirmed a positive test for Covid-19.

“The Prime Minister participated in a meeting with the justice minister on Friday October 30th 2020, where all guidelines for social distance etc. were followed,” the government statement read.

“The Prime Minister is currently showing no symptoms pf Covid-19 and will, as far as possible, continue to work via virtual meetings,” it added.

Hækkerup said in a Facebook post that he had a cough and fever but is in good spirits.

Frederiksen, along with several other leading government figures including foreign minister Jeppe Kofod, health minister Magnus Heunicke and finance minister Nicolai Wammen, have also met with Hækkerup and are now in isolation as they await the results of their Covid-19 tests.

“The virus has spread to both parliament and the government. I am in isolation and will be tested. Though I have no symptoms of the disease. Take care of each other,” Frederiksen wrote on Facebook.

A series of ministers, members of parliament and a party leader – Søren Pape Poulsen of the Conservatives – were yesterday confirmed to have tested positive for Covid-19. A number of other parliamentarians have isolated due to suspected contact with the virus and Frederiksen's questions session in parliament was postponed.

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.

READ ALSO: Is Denmark's parliament at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak?

An ex-minister suggested that procedures at the Christiansborg parliament be adapted to prevent the spread of infection.

“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,” Søren Pind wrote on Twitter.

The parliament has said it will restrict the number of people who can attend meetings.

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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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