Covid-19 epidemic in Denmark ‘increases mildly’ for fourth week

Denmark has seen a mild increase in its coronavirus infections for the fourth consecutive week.

Covid-19 epidemic in Denmark 'increases mildly' for fourth week
Coronavirus information at a gym in Copenhagen. photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The number of daily infections with Covid-19 was under 1,000 for the fourth day in a row on Tuesday, but the R-number or reproduction rate for the virus has been calculated at 1.1, as it was in the three preceding weeks.

An R-number of 1.1 means that 10 people with the virus will pass it on to an average of 11 others, giving a mild overall increasing epidemic.

“It is the fourth consecutive week we are maintaining around the same level and that gives us a mildly increasing epidemic,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote on Twitter.

Heunicke noted a number of elements of Denmark’s current strategy against the virus which he said are helping to limit increased spread of the virus.

“Efficient vaccine rollout, intensive testing, fast contact tracing and closing off of local infection clusters are our most important weapons,” he wrote.

Latest data shows that 32 percent of the population has so far received at least a first dose of the coronavirus. Just over 20 percent have received both doses.

The R-number has a lag associated because it looks at cases which have already been confirmed, not those occurring at the current time. As such, it reflects the infection situation around 1.5 weeks ago. It is still a useful measure, however, because health authorities use it as a marker for trends in the epidemic.

A total of 794 new cases of the virus were registered in the latest daily totals to be published by the national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI).

That represents the fourth day in a row in which that figure has been under 1,000. 139,159 PCR tests were conducted, giving a test positivity rate of 0.57.

The number of Covid-19 inpatients at Danish hospitals now stands at 148, five more than on Monday.

READ ALSO: Danish engineers first to be jabbed under voluntary vaccine scheme

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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.”