Danish Covid-19 wave ‘begins to have consequences’ for hospitals

Denmark on Wednesday again set a 2021 record for the number of Covid-19 infections in a day, as hospitals begin to warn of consequences due to the escalating number of patients with the virus.

A file photo of Covid-19 vaccines in Denmark. The country is struggling to control a winter surge of infections with the coronavirus.
A file photo of Covid-19 vaccines in Denmark. The country is struggling to control a winter surge of infections with the coronavirus. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

A total of 4,426 new cases of the virus were confirmed by infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI) on Wednesday. That is the highest figure yet in 2021, breaking the record set 24 hours prior.

It is also the second-highest total of daily infections seen at any point during the pandemic in Denmark, exceeded only by the 4,508 infections on December 18th 2020.

The United States earlier this week warned its citizens against travelling to Denmark due to the increasing prevalence of Covid-19 cases in the country.

“This is a continuation of what we have seen during the last week. These are also infection rates very much driven by 6-11 year-olds,” said Åse Bengård Andersen, senior medical consultant at the department for infectious diseases at Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet.

The 4,426 positive cases were found amongst 181,841 tests, giving a positivity rate of 2.43 percent, largely in line with that seen during the last week.

Hospitals across Denmark currently have a total of 435 patients admitted with Covid-19. That number is nine fewer than yesterday.

Despite the small drop, Andersen confirmed Danish hospitals are now feeling the strain of the increasing number of patients with the coronavirus.

“It has begun to have consequences. Although (the number) is not as high as during the last wave, you have to say this is nevertheless costly for our resources in the health system,” she said.

The number of hospitalised patients is now at a similar level to that seen in February this year, when Denmark was still in lockdown to see out its second wave of Covid-19.

The peak of that wave saw 964 patients in hospital with the coronavirus on January 4th.

The government on Wednesday announced a briefing on the Covid-19 situation in Denmark, scheduled for 4pm. No further detail was given as to the topic of the briefing.

Broadcaster TV2 reported on Wednesday that the government’s advisory Epidemic Commission has recommended the face mask requirements be reintroduced on public transport and in supermarkets and shopping centres. The measure was previously in place from autumn 2020 before being phased out during summer 2021.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”