Is Denmark about to extend its partial lockdown?

Denmark's health minister has called his counterparts in other parliamentary parties to a meeting in the parliament, indicating that the country may be about to extend the current partial lockdown beyond January 3rd.

Is Denmark about to extend its partial lockdown?
Staff at Selma restaurant in Copenhagen watch the press conference where the current lockdown was announced on December 7th. Photo: Nikolai Linares/Ritzau Scanpix
Magnus Heunicke will host the meeting of the health spokespeople of the country's parliamentary parties at around midday on Tuesday. 
Peder Hvelplund, health chair for the Red Green Alliance, told Denmark's Ritzau newswire that he had received no additional information on what the meeting might be about. 
“But I'm assuming that it will partly be about informing us about how it might be possible to extend the restrictions, and I've also asked that we should be able to discuss New Year's Eve,” he said. 
Shopping centres, schools, restaurants and bars are currently closed across most of Denmark until January 3rd, but with the country on Monday registering a record 30 deaths due to coronavirus, and the number of people hospitalised tripling in a month, some or all of these restrictions are likely to be extended. 
Previously meetings of the inter-party coronavirus group have been followed by a press conference where decisions taken have been announced. 
Nils Strandberg Pedersen, former director of Denmark's SSI infectious diseases agency, told the TV2 broadcaster that he believed that the restrictions would be extended. 
“I think they will extend all the restrictions. People from Christmas are only starting to get sick now, and then the infections will then come afterward from the New Year celebrations,” he said.
“Right now we have a hospital system that is really about to collapse,” he added. “It's quite serious and it cannot cope with very much more.” 
Jan Pravsgaard Christensen, Professor of Immunology at Copenhagen University, said that he believed that primary schools might be reopened after January 3rd, but not much more. 
Allan Randrup Thomsen, Professor of Virology at Copenhagen University, said he believed it would not be until May that sufficient people had been vaccinated for Denmark to be able to lift restrictions. 
“As it looks now, we will unfortunately have to live with the restrictions for some time, probably four to five months,” he said. 

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Denmark’s infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

Travellers from China should not need a negative Covid-19 test when arriving in Denmark, the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute recommended on Saturday, in an assessment sent to the Ministry of Health.

Denmark's infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

In the assessment by the State Serum Institute (SSI), it was noted that there aren’t expected to be a large number of arrivals coming directly from China and that any tests would have a marginal affect on Danish epidemic control.

However SSI wrote that it was still important to keep an eye on new variants of Covid-19 and suggested that a sample of voluntary-based PCR tests could be introduced for travellers from China.

The assessment was requested by Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde, following a recommendation on Wednesday by European Union experts to tighten travel rules.

Infection rates in China are high after it abolished its ‘zero Covid’ policy in late 2022, although no precise numbers are available.

Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the UK, had already introduced testing requirements, while Sweden on Thursday announced a similar step, as did Germany, with an added announcement on Saturday to discourage non-essential travel from Germany to China.

The United States, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan have also put testing rules in place.

Health minister Sophie Løhde also asked SSI to assess testing waste water from aircraft landed from China. SSI responded that there is limited experience in this.

SSI currently analyses samples from shared toilet tanks at four airports twice a week – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Billund. The method would have to be changed in order to detect new Covid-19 variants, which would take up to four weeks to implement, according to the assessment.

Løhde has informed the parliamentary parties about the assessment and has asked the Epidemic Commission for an advisory assessment, she said in a press release. Once this is done, the recommendations will be discussed.