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In brief: The recommendations for lifting Denmark’s lockdown

Denmark’s Ministry of Health has published recommendations for lifting the country’s current coronavirus restrictions after receiving an expert group report based on mathematical modelling.

In brief: The recommendations for lifting Denmark’s lockdown
Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

The government is scheduled to announce its plans for the gradual lifting of coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday and has stated that reopening will be based on expert recommendations using mathematical modelling of future epidemic scenarios.

The recommendations were published by the Ministry of Health late on Monday.

Key points in the expert group’s report include recommendations that ‘large parts’ of the retail sector can be opened, as can outdoor activity in organisations like sports clubs.

Older school students may be allowed to return in regions with lower infection rates.

A summary of the main recommendations follows below.

Retail

Shops with an area of up to 5,000 square metres that sell durable goods could be allowed to reopen, according to the recommendations. This would be with restrictions on the number of customers per square metre.

Stores which are part of shopping malls are not encompassed by the recommendation.

Outdoor clubs

Organised outdoor activity – such as with sports clubs, for example – could be allowed to resume under the new recommendations.

Cultural institutions could also be allowed to reopen for outdoor activity, possibly with a requirement for participants to show a negative Covid-19 test.

The current maximum limit on public assembly of five persons could be increased to 20 for activities that fall into these categories (but not in general), according to the recommendations.

The exact cultural institutions which would be encompassed are not specified in the report.

Schools

The expert group report recommends that older students at elementary schools and at upper secondary schools be allowed to return in specified regions only. These regions are North Jutland, West Jutland and Baltic Sea island Bornholm.

Currently, schools are opened nationally, but only for grades 0-4.

The reopening for older age groups will also be limited, should the recommendations be followed precisely.

For example, students at upper secondary schools (gymnasier in Danish) in North and West Jutland would be allowed to return with 50 percent attendance, and students and teachers would be required to take a coronavirus test twice weekly. On Bornholm, full attendance is recommended provided testing is carried out twice a week.

Youth residential schools (efterskoler) in the two Jutland regions will be allowed to operate with full attendance and special infection prevention measures, under the recommendations.

Further reopening would not take place until after the Easter holiday on April 6th, according to the expert report. That would depend on a review of infection trends following the easing of restrictions in March.

Prior to announcing a finalised plan tomorrow, the government will discuss prospective decisions with leaders of the other parties on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Denmark to present plan for ‘gradual’ lifting of restrictions

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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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