UPDATED: Danish town asks adults and children to take Covid-19 test as schools close

The town of Kolding in southern Jutland has asked for all residents over the age of 12 years to be tested for coronavirus after an outbreak in cases.

UPDATED: Danish town asks adults and children to take Covid-19 test as schools close
A closed school in Kolding. Photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix

All schools and kindergartens in the central Kolding area are to close until February 28th as a result of the outbreak, the Ministry of Health announced on Friday afternoon.

Schools up to fourth grade were reopened nationally earlier this month, but Kolding will now face a local closure after 234 confirmed cases in the last week gave it the highest infection rate in Denmark, at 252 cases per 100,000 residents over the last 7 days.

The Kolding municipality has seen cases spread at schools and childcare facilities and earlier requested all adults and children older than two years to take a test, broadcaster TV2 reported earlier on Friday. The request was later changed to the age of 12 years and over following the announcement from Copenhagen, but capacity for younger children to be tested will remain available.

“We have seen infections spread to a number of childcare institutions,” town councillor Michael Petterson told TV2.

“You can choose whether children are tested via the throat or nose [PCR or rapid testing, ed.], and it’s a voluntary scheme,” he said.

He recognised it was a “challenge” for parents to take their children to be tested.

Five mobile test centres will be available in the town on Saturday and Sunday, Kolding Municipality said via social media.

Rapid tests will also be offered at additional locations next week, it said.

Two of the municipality’s 24 schools had already been closed due to the outbreak, as have 8 kindergartens.

The cases at the schools and kindergartens have been linked to the more infectious B117 variant. 

Health minister Magnus Heunicke called the outbreak in Kolding “serious”.

“Since infections are concentrated around a number of schools and kindergartens, it is necessary to send the youngest children home again and close kindergartens in the town” he said.

Childcare will remain available for parents whose jobs demand it, and vulnerable children will be exempted from the closures.

The only other part of Denmark with a comparable infection rate to Kolding is currently Ishøj near Copenhagen, which has 205 cases per 100,000 residents over the last week.

The third-worst hit municipality, Brøndby, has 102 cases per 100,000 residents, according to latest data.

READ ALSO: Denmark reports first community transmission of B1351 variant

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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.”