Danish government confirms North Jutland restrictions to be eased early

Extra coronavirus restrictions put in place in seven North Jutland municipalities earlier this month are to be lifted early.

Danish government confirms North Jutland restrictions to be eased early
Photo: Claus Bjørn Larsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Most of the additional restrictions placed on North Jutland on November 4th and 5th will be lifted in the coming days beginning on Thursday, the Ministry of Health confirmed in a statement.

As such, people in North Jutland are no longer asked not to travel to other parts of Denmark.

Restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen from Friday, and public transport will operate normally.

Restrictions at child care facilities, schools, youth education institutions and universities will be eased on Monday.

The seven affected municipalities are Vesthimmerland, Frederikshavn, Thisted, Hjørring, Brønderslev, Jammerbugt and Læsø. 

They were placed under considerably tighter restrictions than the rest of Denmark after mutated variants of the new coronavirus linked to mink farms were found in humans.

Health authorities were concerned that a spread of one of the mutations in the community could threaten the efficacy of a future Covid-19 vaccine, after initial research showed it as being potentially more resistant to antibodies.

But testing of 73,000 residents in the region found no cases of the mutation in question.

The restrictions, which were to have been effective until December 3rd, will therefore be lifted early, based on assessment by the State Serum Institute, Denmark’s national infectious disease agency.

“This has been two long weeks for North Jutland, so this is very important and anticipated news,” said Lars Sandahl Sørensen, CEO of the Confederation of Danish Industry.

“The restrictions have caused huge frustrations and problems for businesses and the public in North Jutland, so the reopening has been anticipated and requested,” he added in a written comment to Ritzau.

READ ALSO: Danish minister resigns over 'mistakes' in response to coronavirus mink outbreak

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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.”