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COVID-19

Denmark reports ‘concerning’ jump in Omicron cases

Denmark's health authorities said on Sunday that the country had seen a "concerning" jump to 183 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Denmark reports 'concerning' jump in Omicron cases
Despite measures like the return of face masks in shops, Denmark is seeing high infection rates. Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

The number represented a tripling of confirmed cases in  48 hours, from 18 confirmed and 42 suspected cases on Friday, according to data from the SSI public health institute.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) had previously tallied just 182 cases across all of the European Union, plus Norway and Iceland.

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  • Denmark is one of Europe’s most advanced countries in sequencing of coronavirus variants. It often detects more cases more quickly than its neighbours — which does not necessarily indicate higher rates of infection. SSI’s chief said the increase in Omicron cases was nevertheless “concerning”, adding that “there are now chains of infection where the variant is found in people who have not travelled abroad or been in contact with travellers”.

Also on Sunday, the ECDC said Omicron had been reported in 17 countries in its region.

“The majority of confirmed cases have a history of travel to countries in Africa, with some having taken connecting flights at other locations between Africa and Europe,” the ECDC said on its website before the Danish announcement.

Nevertheless, “several EU/EEA countries (Belgium, Germany, Spain) detected cases without an epidemiological link to areas where community transmission of the Omicron variant is documented or presumed,” it added. “This indicates that undetected community transmission could be ongoing in these countries.”

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COVID-19

Covid-19 medicine Paxlovid now available in Denmark

Denmark has received its first supply of Paxlovid, an antiviral treatment for Covid-19.

Covid-19 medicine Paxlovid now available in Denmark

A first stock of Paxlovid, a tablet which can be described by doctors to combat Covid-19 symptoms, has been delivered to Denmark, health authorities confirmed in a statement.

“The first delivery has arrived today and the rest will be delivered continuously during the coming period,” the Danish Health Authority said.

Denmark has purchased 40,000 treatment courses of the medicine.

Doctors decide when to prescribe the medicine, which is suitable for adults infected with Covid-19 who are at risk of serious illness with Covid-19. It is taken over a course of five days when symptoms are still mild.

“Treatment with Paxlovid is for the patients who are at greatest risk of serious illness with Covid-19 and the treatment will be an important part of the future management of Covid-19,” the Health Authority said in the statement.

The arrival of a medicine for Covid-19 does not signal the end of vaccination which remains “the most effective measure to prevent serious illness and death,” it said.

Denmark has purchased the Paxlovid supply through a deal with pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

The infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI) has 2.2 million Covid-19 vaccines which have been in storage for so long that they are no longer usable, news wire Ritzau earlier reported.

The vaccines were purchased when Denmark was acquiring as many as possible during the pandemic but because they are not effective against newer variants of the coronavirus, they can no longer be used.

Another 3.6 million doses in storage at SSI can only be used for the initial two doses for as-yet unvaccinated people – who are now limited in number given Denmark’s high vaccine uptake. This means they are unusable in the current booster programme.

The cost of the 5.8 million vaccines is estimated at between 116 and 783 million kroner.

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