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Coronavirus: Sweden extends travel ban from Denmark

Sweden on Sunday announced an extension to the travel ban from Denmark until February 14th, over concerns of the new variant of coronavirus spreading.

Coronavirus: Sweden extends travel ban from Denmark
Illustration photo of Copenhagen airport. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe / Ritzau Scanpix

The extension to the travel ban was confirmed at a digital press conference on Sunday January 24th, when the Swedish government announced a new travel ban on entry from Norway. The entry ban from the United Kingdom was also extended until February 14th.

On Saturday January 23rd, the Norwegian government introduced a series of very strict restrictions in Oslo and nine more municipalities due to an outbreak of the more contagious B117 coronavirus variant, first identified in Britain.

The British virus mutation already exists in Sweden. So far, about 50 cases have been confirmed, the vast majority of them are linked to people who have been abroad, according to the Swedish Public Health Agency.

“The ban applies from midnight until February 14th and can be extended if necessary”, Interior Minister Mikael Damberg said at the digital press conference on Sunday afternoon.

READ MORE: COVID UPDATE: Sweden bans travel entry from Norway

In December, the Swedish government announced a ban on travel into Sweden from both the UK and Denmark, due to the new coronavirus variant in the countries. The ban was initially due to last a month.

It was the first time during the pandemic that the Scandinavian country closed the border on one of its neighbours. 

Swedish citizens are exempt from the entry ban, as are non-citizens who live or work in Sweden, and people working in the transportation of goods.
 
The B117 coronavirus variant has previously been estimated to be between 50-74 percent more infectious than established forms of Covid-19.

It is expected to comprise 50 percent of all Covid-19 variants in circulation in Denmark by the middle of February, according to a new report issued by the State Serum Institute (SSI).

It has been traced to have first appeared in Denmark in November, but was reported to have become established in the south east of England in December.

READ ALSO: How could infectious Covid-19 variant impact Denmark's infection numbers?

 

 

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COVID-19

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.” 

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