Denmark sustains low rate of Covid-19 infections but B117 spread continues

A total of 428 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in Denmark on Friday.

Denmark sustains low rate of Covid-19 infections but B117 spread continues
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The new cases were found amongst 128,269 tests nationally giving a test positivity rate of 0.33, according to data from the State Serum Institute (SSI), the country’s national infectious disease agency.

The positivity rate has now remained under 1 percent for around a month.

That is a positive sign, according to an expert who spoke to news wire Ritzau.

“The number of new infections has fallen and that is good. It shows that we are still reducing the number of new cases and that is important in light of the more infectious British variant [B117, ed.], which now comprises around 30 percent of infections,” said Eskild Pedersen, an professor of infectious disease at Aarhus University.

Authorities are currently closely monitoring the growth of the more infectious B117 variant.

Preliminary SSI data shows that the variant caused 28.5 percent of positive Covid-19 tests analysed in the first week of February.

The spread of the variant is the primary reason why a lifting of current lockdown rules is not currently on the cards, Pedersen said.

“(The variant) also means that the measures we introduce are 50 percent less effective, all things being equal,” he said.

The variant has been estimated to be around 50 percent more infectious than previous forms of Covid-19.

“We know that the mutation will take over and the big question is therefore how well the restrictions work when the British variant forms 70 percent of cases,” he said.

The number of people currently hospitalised with Covid-19 now stands at 337, 20 fewer than yesterday and the lowest for several weeks.

A total of 2,280 people and Denmark have died with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Conservative parties in Denmark today issued a joint statement calling for a cautious reopening of closed parts of society in regions with low infection numbers. But that would have to be undertaken with care, Pedersen said.

“I can understand the pressure to open up, but the problem is that if you are in Copenhagen and have built up a need to shop, and a department store has reopened in Roskilde, people will go there to do their shopping,” he said.

“It’s hard to control who goes in and out of regional limits,” he added.

Some small region service could reopen with relative safety, however, the professor said.

“You could open town hall services [borgerservice, ed.] to provide service to local residents, or small businesses like local hair salons, or a local market where people rarely come from far away,” he said.

Denmark’s vaccination programme is meanwhile moving forward but has been hampered by reductions and delays to deliveries by all three companies currently supplying the country with vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Latest SSI figures show that 212,206 people have now receive at least one dose of the vaccination, corresponding to 3.64 percent of the population.

Of the those who have received a vaccine, 159,059 have received both doses. That is 2.73 percent of the population.

COMPARE: How are countries across Europe faring in the battle against Covid-19?

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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.”