Don’t expect Denmark to reopen at start of February: minister

Don’t expect Denmark to reopen at start of February: minister
'Temporarily Closed' signs at Copenhagen Zoo. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark’s current coronavirus lockdown is scheduled to expire on February 7th, but an actual reopening in coming weeks is unlikely.

Health minister Magnus Heunicke said in comments to broadcaster DR that he does not expect a large scale reopening of society at the beginning of next month.

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 had already been extended once before the new deadline of February 7th was announced.

Infection rates and hospitalisation numbers in the country have fallen significantly since last month.

Wednesday saw 592 new cases of Covid-19 registered by health authorities from 112,894 tests. That gives a test positivity rate of 0.52 percent.

A total of 666 people are currently hospitalised across the country due to Covid-19, according to official data. That figure exceeded 900 when peaking in December 2020.

The reproduction rate or R-number – a measure of whether the virus is spreading in society – is currently estimated to be at 0.8. If the R-number is less than 1.0, the overall number of infections will fall.

Despite these encouraging signs, health authority concerns over the more infectious B117 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, mean any talk of reopening businesses or schools remains on hold.

The R-number for the B117 variant alone is 1.07, according to DR’s report on Tuesday.

Because it is more infectious, B117 could cause a new wave of cases once it becomes the dominant form of the virus – which it is on course to do – unless restrictions keep it under control, health authorities have said.

“It is not realistic to have a major easing (of restrictions) in February,” Heunicke told DR.

“All our efforts now are about taking the strength out of the epidemic so there is as little fuel as possible when the British variant takes over,” Heunicke said, choosing to refer to B117 by the country in which it was first identified.

“In the countries in which re-openings have happened at the same time as the British variant taking control of the epidemic, things have gone completely wrong. We must hold on here,” he also said.

Henrik Ullum the director of the State Serum Institute, the national infectious disease agency, said on Tuesday that current infection rates were good news but there is also cause for concern.

“I am pleased about the way in which the public has taken on board the restrictions and good advice,” Ullum told DR.

“But I am just as concerned about B117 as I always have been. It is more infectious, and if we open up, it will spread explosively,” he said.

READ ALSO: Denmark set to enforce entry quarantine as parliament backs move

 


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.