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Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday

Find out what's going on in Denmark today with The Local's short round-up of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Denmark: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday
A new stimulus package aims to boost sectors including tourism this summer, while general compensation for businesses will end on July 1st. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

Government changes stance and will rescue Danish children from Syrian camps

The government last night said it plans to repatriate 14 Danish children and three of their mothers from two Kurdish-run prison camps in northeastern Syria, because of the poor conditions in which they are being held.

A report by a commission studying the conditions for repatriation was submitted to the government prior to the announcement. The two camps, al-Hol and al-Roj, house former Islamic State (Isis) militants and their sympathisers.

“The situation as regards humanitarian security in the camps has deteriorated. Particularly in the al-Hol camp, where there is a shortage of food and medical care,” foreign minister Jeppe Kofod told a press briefing, reported by news wire AFP.

The decision appears to represent a significant climbdown by the government, which for a long time refused to countenance repatriating the children.

We’ll have more on this in a full report today.


New coronavirus compensation package to replace general support for businesses

A total of 1.65 billion kroner is to be spent on what has been termed a “summer and business package” aimed to help sectors including tourism and culture to get back on their feet following the coronavirus crisis.

A broad parliamentary majority approved the stimulus package following negotiations last night, with the Ministry of Finance subsequently confirming the deal.

General coronavirus compensation for businesses, which has been offered in some form throughout most of the pandemic, expires on July 1st and will be replaced by the new scheme aimed at particularly-affected businesses, the new agreement states.

Nurses’ strike on hold for now

A strike by nurses scheduled to begin at the end of this week has been put on hold.

The strike had been expected after a slim majority of union members in the Danish Nurses’ Organization (Dansk Sygeplejeråd, DSR) last month voted to reject a new collective bargaining agreement over working terms.

But a proposal for mediation has automatically triggered a delay on the industrial action, news wire Ritzau reports.

The proposal comes from Forligsinstitutionen, a state organ which has the function of mediating in disputes between unions and employers.

You can read a little more background here and here on the Danish labour model which occasionally gives rise to strikes and lockouts.

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Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

A Dane going to space, beefing up the Danish navy, and increasing Covid cases are among the top news stories in Denmark on Friday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

Covid cases increase as holidays end

The number of positive PCR tests in Denmark is again on the rise with people returning to work and school after summer holidays, according to the latest data from the State’s Serum Institute, Denmark’s infectious disease agency.  

From the last week of July to the first week of August, cases rose 18 percent, while the positive percentage grew to 27 percent. 

“Activity in our society is increasing, and people may also be more aware of getting tested for symptoms in connection with starting work and education,” says Tyra Grove Krause, professional director of the SSI. 

Central and North Jutland have seen the highest overall infection rates, while nationwide 40-59 year olds are seeing the most positive tests. 

Data on incidence rates are more likely to be an underestimate given Denmark’s dramatically reduced public testing program, which saw all quick test sites and all but a handful of PCR test sites shuttered in the spring. On August 15, authorities further restricted guidelines for who should be tested if they experience Covid symptoms — now, the official guidance is that testing is only recommended for people who are 65 years old or over, pregnant, or have a condition that causes a higher risk of sever outcomes for Covid-19. 

Danish astronaut announces mission to space 

Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen will spend six months at the International Space Station as part of Mission Huginn — named after one of two ravens from Norse mythology that flew around the world to gather news for the god Odin.

Instead of news of the world, Mogensen will be gathering information about “sleep and well-being in space” as well as attempt to 3D print metal components, all essential for potential longer-term space travel to destinations like Mars. 

Denmark to strengthen naval fleet with eye to Russia 

Defense minister Morten Bodskov announced a significant investment in the Danish navy on Thursday.

Over the next 20 years, 40 billion kroner will be spent to upgrade the Danish fleet. “We are facing a serious situation in Europe. There is war in Europe. We have just been through a corona pandemic, and common to both is that it has created problems for our security of supply,” Bodskov told reporters, according to newswire the Agence France-Presse. 

“It is not viable, especially in times of war in Europe, for the Danish defence to have problems getting ships and other equipment built,” he added. “That is why we are taking action now” with industry partners to build our own warships. 

READ MORE: From June: Russian warship violates Danish waters

Danish politicians may visit Taiwan 

Members of Danish parliament from six political parties are ready to travel to Taiwan after a possible election this autumn, newspaper Politiken reports. 

“Taiwan must not be isolated in the way that China wants it to be. They must not succeed in that,” Michael Aastrup Jensen, foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal party (Venstre) told Politiken. 

The six parties that have signed on to a possible trip are the Conservatives, the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), the Social Liberals (Radikale), the Danish People’s Party, the Liberal party, and the new Danish Democrats party. 

However, some, including Socialist People’s Party foreign affairs spokesman Karsten Hønge, say stirring the pot in Taiwan could cause more harm than good. 

READ MORE: From 2019: Copenhagen Zoo removes Taiwan from display map to get loan pandas from China