NEW: Denmark extends Covid-19 travel restrictions until March

Restrictions on travel in and out of Denmark have been extended up to and including February 28th, the country's foreign ministry has confirmed.

NEW: Denmark extends Covid-19 travel restrictions until March
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm at a briefing to confirm the extension ofcoronavirus restrictions until March. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

In addition to extending the country’s national lockdown, Denmark has also extended travel restrictions until the end of February.

The country’s foreign ministry confirmed the extension in a statement on Thursday, shortly after Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen confirmed the three-week continuation of the lockdown.

As such, the foreign ministry will continue to advise against travel to the entire world until the end of next month.

“Continued limitation of travel activity is an important element in the efforts to control infection spread while mutations of coronavirus are occurring in several countries,” the ministry wrote in the statement.

Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod underlined the seriousness of the ministry advisory.

“The few people who travel on tourism holidays against our clear recommendations are failing to show solidarity with the many who make a huge effort each day to comply with the restrictions which, unfortunately, are now necessary,” he said in the statement.

READ ALSO: Danish ski tourists travel to locked-down Austria under pretence of work: report

The extended restrictions mean that negative Covid-19 tests no more than 24 hours old are required to board flights to the country. An exception applies for individuals who have been infected with Covid-19 between the last 2-8 weeks.

Non-residents of Denmark are required to fulfil a ‘valid reason’ criterion for entering the country, while non-Danes who live in either the UK or South Africa are essentially banned from entering Denmark altogether. More detail on these rules including on valid reasons for entry can be found here.

A current ban on incoming flights from the United Arab Emirates is not encompassed by the extension, according to the foreign ministry statement. That ban is due to expire on February 2nd.

READ ALSO: These are Denmark's entry rules for negative Covid-19 tests

The more infectious B117 variant has been projected to become the dominant form in Denmark by the middle of next month. It is known to be significantly more infectious than previous forms of Covid-19.

The third week of 2021 saw the variant detected in 231 positive tests for the coronavirus, according to SSI data.

That is a slight increase compared to the previous week, when 224 cases were detected.

But B117 was found in 13.5 percent of analysed swabs – significantly more than the 7.4 percent that was found the previous weeks in swabs tested for presence of the variant.

Additionally, the overall number of new cases of Covid-19 fell between the two weeks, which makes the slight increase in B117 prevalence notable.

A delay of around one week in results from genome sequencing to test for B117 is also inherent in the data, meaning it only covers the first five days of the week beginning January 18th, but all of the previous week.

A total of 772 incidences of the B117 variant have now been detected in Denmark. The more infectious form of Covid-19 was first reported in the United Kingdom in December 2020.

No new cases of another more infectious variant, B1351, have been detected. That variant is reported to have originated in South Africa. Four cases of this variant have been detected in Denmark overall.

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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.”