Denmark extends coronavirus lockdown until February 7th

Denmark extends coronavirus lockdown until February 7th
Health minister Magnus Heunicke at Wednesday's briefing. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark has extended lockdown measures until February 7th in the face of an "extremely worrying" rise in infections with the B117 virus variant.

The restrictions, which had been set to expire on January 17th, have thereby been extended by three weeks.

The current restrictions include the closure of schools, universities and non-essential stores as well as requiring most people to work from home where possible; public assembly limits of no more than 5 people; and mandatory face mask use in indoor public areas.

They have been in full effect since December 25th and have already been extended once.

The more infectious B117 variant of the coronavirus first detected in the UK in December is a key cause for authorities' concern and decision to extend restrictions.

“The B117 variant is spreading in Denmark,” health minister Magnus Heunicke said at a briefing on Wednesday at which the extension was confirmed.

208 cases of the mutated virus have so far been detected in Denmark, Heunicke said, calling the increasing prevalence of the variant “concerning”.

In the last week of 2020, the variant comprised 2.4 percent of positive Covid-19 tests genetically sequenced by the national infectious diseases agency, SSI.

That increased to 3.6 percent in the first week of 2021.

Until now, only a sample of positive test swabs have been analysed for mutations to the virus. But a new testing method will now mean that all Covid-19 tests will be checked to see if B117 is present, health authorities have said.

READ ALSO: Denmark to test all positive Covid-19 swabs for infectious variants

In addition to the extension of the national lockdown, travel restrictions have also been extended to February 7th, justice minister Nick Hækkerup confirmed at the briefing. All countries are currently designated 'red', which means the foreign ministry advises against all travel abroad. 

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had previously said that an extension of the current restrictions was likely.

“My assessment is that an extension of the current restrictions is clearly necessary. Not least to ensure that the British mutation doesn’t spread,” she said in parliament earlier on Wednesday.

Meetings with the leaders of all parliamentary parties were scheduled on Wednesday to discuss the extension of “restrictions which unfortunately are necessary to get through the pandemic,” she also said.

A total of 859 people are currently hospitalised with the virus in Denmark. That figure is lower than it was one week ago, but still far higher than the peak hospitalisation number during the spring 2020 wave, which was 535.

“859 are in hospital and that is a lot. That is another reason to continue fighting the spread of infections,” Heunicke said.


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