Denmark to ease threshold for local Covid-19 lockdowns

Denmark to ease threshold for local Covid-19 lockdowns
Hørsholm Municipality was subject to a local lockdown earlier this month. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Ritzau Scanpix
The lockdown threshold for Covid-19 incidence in Danish municipalities and parishes will be raised on Friday.

The limits will increase from 250 to 300 cases per 100,000 residents in the last week for municipalities; and from 500 to 600 cases per 100,000 residents for parishes, which cover smaller geographical areas than municipalities.

Parliament’s epidemic commission approved the decision on Wednesday.

“The epidemic commission is set up in such a way that requires us to confirm (the decision), but this is a matter of procedure,” Conservative health spokesperson Per Larsen said.

“Because there is broad political agreement, there is not much to discuss,” Larsen added.

In addition to the incidence threshold, parishes must also register a raw number of 20 cases in the last week in order for local lockdown to be triggered. This criterion will not change.

The third criteria, test positivity rate, will be eased from 2.5 percent to 3.0 percent. As such 3 percent of tests must give positivity results for lockdown to be activated.

Local lockdowns are a tool used by authorities to prevent nationwide responses to localised outbreaks, the Ministry of Health said in a written comment.

“The intention with the model for automatic lockdowns is to avoid national lockdowns as far as possible and to react quickly,” the ministry wrote.

May has seen daily new cases of Covid-19 exceed 1,000 nationally on several occasions, representing an increase compared to earlier in the spring, when more restrictions were in place.

Around a third of the country’s population has now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and the number of hospital inpatients with the virus is stable. That provides justification to ease the local lockdown thresholds, according to Larsen.

“We are in a robust situation in which many are vaccinated, many have had Covid and out hospital service is in no way under threat. We are therefore in a phase where what counts is to maintain control of the pandemic,” he said.

“So it makes sense to lift the incidence thresholds if infection numbers are also growing a little in the population,” he added.

The new limits will apply for an initial four weeks but can be changed before that time.

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