Coronavirus: Denmark R-number falls after early July increase

The R-number or reproduction rate for Covid-19 in Denmark is now 1.1, a decrease from the previous value of 1.3.

Coronavirus: Denmark R-number falls after early July increase
File photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The updated measure was confirmed by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

According to the ministry, a change in testing behaviour in Denmark means that more uncertainty is associated with the figure than usual.

READ ALSO: Denmark to reduce Covid-19 rapid testing capacity

Last week’s R-number was calculated to be 1.3, which was the highest value recorded since August 2020.

The R-number or reproduction rate is an estimate of the rate of spread of the virus through society. If the number is 1.1, 10 infected people are estimated to infect 11 others, meaning the epidemic is growing. A R-number less than 1.0 means that the epidemic is diminishing.

As such, the Covid-19 epidemic in Denmark remains on an incline but the new R-number suggests that the rate is beginning to slow.

The current situation with the virus is not a cause for immediate concern, an expert said.

“The reproduction rate is always a little behind. It reflects what happened a few days ago. And if we look at the numbers for the last 3-5 days then the epidemic is down to where it’s neither growing nor declining,” said Viggo Andreasen, professor in mathematical epidemiology at Roskilde University.

Uncertainty related to the R-number is linked to variation in the number of people being tested on different days of the week. Testing numbers are also declining overall as the number of vaccinated people increases.

Although the R-number incorporates a lag due to the way it is calculated, it forms part of the background for authorities and experts in decisions regarding the ongoing response to the pandemic.

Daily infection rates and the number of hospitalised people with Covid-19 are also key factors in this regard.

Infection numbers have varied somewhat during the last 10 days, between 1,202 on July 14th and 641 on July 18th.

On Tuesday, 820 new cases were registered from 84,439 tests, giving a positivity rate of 0.97 percent, within the range observed over the last week.

A total of 50 people are currently hospitalised with Covid-19 as of Tuesday. That figure has remained stable throughout July.

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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.”