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Denmark tightens rules on travel from border regions

The Ministry of Justice has announced that it will introduce stricter rules on travel from regions bordering Denmark.

Denmark tightens rules on travel from border regions
File photo: Nils Meilvang/Ritzau Scanpix

The decision has been taken due to concerns over the risk of spread of the more infectious B1351 variant of Covid-19, the ministry said in a statement.

Residents in border regions have faced more flexible entry requirements than others to ease movement in and out of the country for work, business, study or private matters.

READ ALSO: These are Denmark's current Covid-19 travel restrictions

But authorities now believe there is an increased risk of spread of the B1531 variant, which was first detected in South Africa, via border areas.

As such, people entering Denmark from Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) and Skåne, Halland, Västra Götaland and Blekinge (Sweden) must have a ‘valid' reason for travel and a negative Covid-19 test taken with the last 72 hours. Previously, a test up to a week old was allowed.

The new requirement will take effect from Wednesday February 17th.

In addition to the requirement for a recent, negative Covid-19 test, people travelling into Denmark from abroad are required to take a new Covid-19 test within 24 hours of arrival and to self-quarantine for ten days, according to the current travel restrictions, which have been in place since February 7th.

However, exemptions to the entry test and quarantine requirements apply for people who live in Denmark but work or provide services in border regions, or visit loved ones there.

These exemptions remain in place after February 17th but will now require a negative test less than 72 hours old on entry (changed from the previous 7 days). 

“It is important that people who live and work in the border regions can cross the borders and the government understands this. But it is also important to protect Denmark against virus variants that can create greater uncertainty in the epidemic. That’s why it is necessary to tighten the requirements for testing for people who move around the border areas,” health minister Magnus Heunicke said in the statement.

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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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