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COVID-19

Denmark has ‘basis’ for further lifting of Covid-19 restrictions

Current Covid-19 infection rates in Denmark provide the ‘basis’ for a further lifting of restrictions, health minister Magnus Heunicke said on Tuesday.

Denmark has 'basis' for further lifting of Covid-19 restrictions
Health minister Magnus Heunicke. Photo: Jens Dresling/Ritzau Scanpix

The reproduction rate or R-number for Covid-19 in Denmark is currently estimated to be 1.0, Heunicke wrote on Twitter. The measure is an estimate of whether an infection is spreading in society.

A number of 1.0 indicates that 10 people infected with the virus will infect 10 others, and that the epidemic will therefore not grow.

The figure was last week calculated to be 0.9. At this number, the epidemic will want because 10 infected people would only pass the virus to 9 others.

Because the R-number is 1.0, “we have the basis for a further controlled reopening (of society),” Heunicke wrote.

The figure is calculated based on infection numbers registered over the last week as well as the number of recent hospitalisations.

The national infectious disease agency, SSI, has estimated the R-number for the more infectious variant B117 to be 1.14, however. As such, the number of people infected with the variant will increase. The calculation for B117 uses data reaching further back than that for the general R-number.

B117, first identified in the United Kingdom late last year, now constitutes 80 percent of new cases in Denmark.

SSI has said it will no longer calculate a separate R-number for the variant.

When the government announced the slight lifting of restrictions on March 1st, it said infection trends would be reviewed before deciding whether to allow additional reopenings at schools by March 15th.

READ ALSO: Expected completion of Danish vaccination programme delayed by three weeks

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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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