Danish football fans’ crowded celebrations led to ‘only limited spread’

The wild, out-of-contol celebrations that followed Brøndby IF's victory in the Danish Superliga final have ten days later resulted in just 92 new coronavirus infections, leading some to suggest that big concerts and festivals could be held safely.

Danish football fans' crowded celebrations led to 'only limited spread'
A Brøndby fan celebrates the team's victory in the Superliga final. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Patient Safety Authority tweeted on Monday that the celebrations, which brought thousands of jubilant fans out on to the streets near Copenhagen, with wild hugging and little if any social distancing, had not been a superspreader event, with just 85 of those who attended the event so far testing positive. 

“Fortunately this points to only limited spread of infection,” it wrote.

Since then, seven new infections linked to the celebrations have been detected, but this has not stopped the Danish Chamber of Commerce from using the event to push for greater opening.

“We believe that the figures give us a good reason to look at both the restrictions and quickly make more trials in Denmark, so that we can become smarter about how the infection spreads at, for instance, larger concerts,” Lars Ramme Nielsen, an economist at the chamber covering the tourism and events sectors, told the BT tabloid. “We must be careful, but we must not be overcautious.”

Hans Jørn Kolmos, professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Southern Denmark, told the newspaper that the low level of infections was “gratifying”.

“It confirms that it takes a lot to infect people when you are outside,” he said.

He said that it should be possible to tour the Grøn Koncert, a moving concert that plays annually in several Danish cities, if all of those attending had valid coronavirus passes.

“The Grøn Koncert, with coronapasses, could probably work well. I wouldn’t be terribly worried about that,” he said.

But Christian Wejse, Associate professor at Aarhus University, questioned whether 92 infected counted as “limited spread”.

“This is exactly what I would call a significant spread of infection,” he said. “If we look at the individual events in we have had in Denmark that have led to a large number of infected people, then this will come a good way up on that list.”

“It is a question of definition, but I’m not sure I agree that this is not a superspreader event.”

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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.”