Denmark to mass test West Jutland residents after cases linked to mink farms

Up to 115,000 people living in the West Jutland regions of Holstebro and Ringkøbing-Skjern have been asked to take a Covid-19 test in the coming weeks and keep social contacts to a minimum.

Denmark to mass test West Jutland residents after cases linked to mink farms
File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The government has decided to put local measures into effect in the two municipalities at the recommendation of health authorities.

The measures, announced in a Ministry of Health statement on Monday, are scheduled to remain in place until December 3rd.

A number of confirmed cases in people who have worked on mink fur farms in the region are the reason for the local measures.

The Central Jutland health authority has found 180 cases of Covid-19 which can be connected to mink. Over half of those are located in Holstebro and Ringkøbing-Skjern.

National infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI) has said increasing cases of coronavirus related to mink may be found in the region in the coming weeks.

However, no further incidences of the ‘cluster 5’, a mutated variation of coronavirus from minks, have yet been detected in humans.

Concerns over the mutation prompted the government earlier this month to shut down parts of North Jutland and cull all farmed minks in the country.


Nonetheless, a high incidence of mink-related cases makes mass testing in West Jutland a sensible step, according to Ringkøbing-Skjern mayor Hans Østergaard.

“I would certainly encourage everyone to take a test. All other things equal, testing is a tool that helps reduce infections to a lower level,” Østergaard said.

Requests over testing and reduction of social contacts are a significantly lower level of restriction than those which were placed on North Jutland, he also noted.

“When you think it over, these are basically the restrictions already in place where you are encouraged not to see more people than absolutely necessary, and to move in small social circles,” he said.

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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.”