Danish hospitals reduce Covid-19 beds as admissions decline

The number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 in Denmark has increased significantly since December, enabling hospitals to begin reducing capacity for patients with the virus.

Danish hospitals reduce Covid-19 beds as admissions decline
File photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

As of February 1st, 544 people are admitted to hospital in Denmark with coronavirus. That figure is significantly lower than at the peak of the second wave, when it exceeded 900 in late December and topped at 964 on January 4th.

The Greater Copenhagen region currently has 360 beds for coronavirus patients but is expected to reduce that number in the immediate future to 300 or 240.

“The combination of low infection numbers and falling admission numbers have convinced us that wave two is subsiding,” Kristian Antonsen, the acting head of the Frederiksberg and Bispebjerg hospitals, told news wire Ritzau.

The daily total of confirmed new cases of Covid-19 have been under 1,000 consistently since mid-January. Monday saw a total of 488 new cases registered. The test positivity rate is under 1 percent.

That compares to daily new infections ranging between 3,500-4,500 in mid-December, with the test positivity rate at 2.4-3.5 percent.

Antonsen said that the Greater Copenhagen region was now returning to the original form of its contingency plan for coping with patient numbers. The plan was extended as the winter wave of the virus worsened.

Aarhus University Hospital also confirmed that it has reduced its number of Covid-19 beds to 26 as of Monday. That number had previously been increased to 40.

“We are reducing number of beds because we are seeing fewer hospitalisations per day, and the overall number of inpatients has fallen,” said senior consultant Lars Østergaard of the infectious diseases department at the hospital.

Østergaard noted that capacity could be increased should the need return – for example, if the more infectious B117 variant causes a new wave of hospitalisations.

READ ALSO: Denmark extends Covid-19 lockdown until March

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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.”