Denmark to restrict North Jutland borders due to mink coronavirus outbreak

Authorities in Denmark are to ask residents in North Jutland not to leave their home municipalities due to concerns over the spread of a mutated form of coronavirus.

Denmark to restrict North Jutland borders due to mink coronavirus outbreak
Jammerbugt is one of seven North Jutland municipalities to be encompassed by local restrictions due to a coronavirus mutation stemming from mink. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Seven municipalities with confirmed coronavirus cases in mink are to be encompassed by restrictions asking residents to remain within municipal limits as far as possible.

The municipalities affected by the order are Hjørring, Frederikshavn, Vesthimmerland, Brønderslev, Jammerbugt, Thisted and Læsø.

“We have to stop movement of residents across municipal borders. We need to find a model for this,” Per Bach Laursen, the mayor in the Vesthimmerland municipality, told Politiken.

Restaurants, sports and cultural activities are to be closed for the next four weeks, Laursen also told the newspaper.

Regional broadcaster TVMidtvest reports that there is unlikely to be any physical control of municipal borders, but that the government is still working to finalise measures. That is also based on comments from Laursen, the mayor in Vesthimmerland.

The intervention comes after the national government on Wednesday announced it would cull the entire population of minks at farms in Denmark.

The decision to cull up to 17 million animals was deemed unavoidable after a mutated version of the new coronavirus was detected at mink farms and then spread to people.

The mutation “could pose a risk that future (coronavirus) vaccines won't work the way they should,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference, adding: “It is necessary to cull all the minks.”

Laursen told broadcaster DR that people in the affected North Jutland municipalities should stay within the borders of the municipality in which they live and get a coronavirus test.

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus in the affected municipalities will also be required to test for whether they have been infected with the normal strain or the variation from mink farms.

Schools and child care facilities will remain open, but adult education will be limited, according to the Danish media reports.

The restrictions will come into effect from tomorrow for an initial four weeks.

Twelve people were registered as infected with a mutated form of the coronavirus, news wire Ritzau reported on Wednesday, but the real number is likely to be far higher. Newspaper Information reported on Thursday that up to four or five percent of infections in North Jutland may be with the specific mink mutation of coronavirus that is concerning authorities.

READ ALSO: Denmark to cull millions of minks over mutated 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.”