Danish hospitals challenged as number of Covid-19 patients quadruples

The number of Covid-19 inpatients in the Hovedstaden (Greater Copenhagen) healthcare region has almost quadrupled since the beginning of December, resulting in concerns over capacity.

Danish hospitals challenged as number of Covid-19 patients quadruples
A Covid-19 ward at Bispebjerg Hospital. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

The Greater Copenhagen healthcare region currently has 389 patients admitted with the coronavirus – a steep increase from the 103 patients who were hospitalised at the beginning of December.

The total number of Covid-19 inpatients at Denmark currently stands at 713, the highest level throughout the pandemic.

Healthcare bosses in the region are now working to increase capacity for coronavirus patients, because the number of patients has broken through existing contingency planning to ensure there were enough beds for people admitted with the virus.

“The total number of Covid patients has blown up the contingency plan for hospital admissions. The region’s crisis management is working to increase capacity and ensure that hospitals can accommodate both Covid and other patients who need treatment,” Region Hovedstaden said in a statement.

Last week, the healthcare authority decided to postpone all non-acute treatments scheduled for the three weeks beginning on December 21st, in order to create space for Covid-19 patients.

The region’s previous contingency plan allowed for 360 coronavirus patients, at the highest level, Ritzau reports. As such, that plan is no longer sufficient.

Cancer patients in the region and others in need of intensive care could be treated in the Syddanmark (Southern Denmark) region, an official said on Tuesday, while also confirming beds had been added for coronavirus patients.

The two regions are in discussion over a temporary arrangement to send patients from the capital to southern Denmark, if capacity needs increase. Patients requiring cancer surgery could be among those relocated, DR reports.

“The plan we have made for Christmas is that we have increased by 200 beds in relation to the level we otherwise had. We think we can get through Christmas and New Year with that,” Region Hovedstaden medical director Dorthe Crüger said.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: Why has the number of Covid-19 cases in Denmark increased so quickly?

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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.”