Denmark urges public to get booster jabs after Covid-19 infections break record

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and senior health officials said the country would ramp up its drive to provide booster vaccinations as the country, already with record Covid-19 infection levels, braces for the impact of the Omicron variant.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and senior health officials on Wednesday said the country would ramp up its Covid-19 booster vaccination drive.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and senior health officials on Wednesday said the country would ramp up its Covid-19 booster vaccination drive. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Boosters were the key theme of a briefing given on Wednesday evening by Frederiksen and the heads of health authorities.

Earlier in the day, an additional 5,120 positive Covid-19 tests were registered in Denmark in the latest daily total, a record for the country’s coronavirus epidemic.

Frederiksen urged the country’s senior age groups to accept invitations to get boosters and asked for family members to assists elderly relatives with the digital element of the vaccine booking system.

“It’s completely crucial that authorities and regions now increase their tempo and capacity so there’s no need to wait and no one wastes valuable time,” she said.

The government reiterated at the meeting that it plans to avoid the type of lockdown seen in earlier waves of the virus, which saw schools and businesses close and large events cancelled.

“It’s our clear ambition that Denmark will remain open,” Frederiksen said, adding that vaccines were vital in ensuring this.

While Frederiksen has previously focused on unvaccinated people, this time she asked the public to accept the offer of a booster jab as soon as possible. Boosters will be offered to all over-18s six months after the original vaccination course was completed.

Vaccination capacity is to be ramped up to enable 500,000 jabs per week, the government said at the briefing.

Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrøm admitted that there were currently delays accessing vaccinations or boosters in some areas.

“We would like to see vaccination be available within a week of receiving the invitation,” Brostrøm said.

READ ALSO: How foreign citizens can get a booster Covid-19 jab in Denmark

All people offered a booster dose should be able to get one within a week in their own health authority region, according to a goal stated by the government.

“Everyone should be able to have a third (booster) jab within the six months [after vaccination, ed.]. That’s the clear goal of authorities,” Frederiksen said.

“You can say that every jab counts right now,” she added.

Health Minister Magnus Heunick said at the briefing that seven cases of the Omicron variant have now been identified in Denmark and that tests were ongoing in several more suspected cases.

“It’s important that we put all hands to the wheel. That is also because of the new variant Omicron. We know from earlier waves that time is a decisive factor,” Heunicke said.

READ ALSO: Denmark requires travellers from Middle East hubs to take Covid-19 test

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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.”