Denmark’s Covid-19 infections in slight fall-off but infectious variant spreads

Denmark on Tuesday registered 1,076 new cases of Covid-19 in Denmark, the lowest total since November, but the country’s situation with the virus remains precarious.

Denmark’s Covid-19 infections in slight fall-off but infectious variant spreads
A deserted central Copenhagen on Tuesday. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The positive cases were found amongst 57,956 tests, giving a test positivity rate of 1.86 percent.

That means the percentage of positive tests remains at a similar level to that seen in recent days.

But the somewhat encouraging numbers are still not at a satisfactory level given the spread of the more infectious B117 variant of the virus throughout Denmark, according to an expert. The B117 virus was first reported in southeastern England in December. It is estimated to be 50-74 percent more infectious than previous variants.

“If (B117) is to be prevented from spreading uncontrollably, we need social distance to such an extent that the number of new positive tests falls by 30-40 percent each week,” Viggo Andreasen, a mathematical epidemiologist at Roskilde University, told news wire Ritzau.

According to Andreasen, the B117 variant is not currently a major factor in hosplitalisations and deaths with Covid-19 in Denmark but its prevalence amongst infections is currently doubling by the week.

917 people were admitted to Danish hospitals with the virus as of Tuesday, a decrease by 3 people compared to Monday.

1,623 people in total have died with Covid-19 in Denmark since the outset of the pandemic.

“In the course of a few weeks – (national infectious disease agency) SSI believes it will be four to five weeks – B117 will become the most common,” Andreasen said.

“We will then see a period in which infection numbers double in a week, unless strong measures are taken to reduce infections,” the mathematical epidemiologist said.

Current lockdown rules are scheduled to expire on January 17th, but are expected to be extended.

READ ALSO: Denmark bans flights without negative Covid-19 tests

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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.”