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COVID-19

Denmark extends ‘critical threat’ status of Covid-19

Covid-19 will be considered a ‘critical threat to society’ in Denmark for an additional eight weeks after parliament agreed on the extension on Wednesday.

Denmark on December 8th extended the
Denmark on December 8th extended the "critical threat" status of Covid-19 by four weeks, giving the government more reach to introduce social restrictions against the virus. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

The disease was earlier given the high-threat status between March and September this year, before it was downgraded as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

Last month, it was again upgraded to being a critical threat as the number of cases of the virus began to increase.

At the time, a one-month expiry was set on the status by political parties, outflanking the government, which wanted to set the status for four months.

With that initial month about to expire, a further eight-week extension was agreed on Wednesday, according to news wire Ritzau.

The categorisation of Covid-19 as a “critical threat” is important because it impacts the ability of the government to introduce restrictions aimed at curbing spread of the virus.

When a disease is considered a “critical threat”, the government can impose restrictions such as bans on people gathering and school closures, mandate use of face masks, and demand Covid-19 passes, provided a majority in parliament’s epidemic committee does not oppose this.

READ ALSO: Why is ‘critical threat’ status of Covid-19 important in Denmark? 

It is the epidemic committee which on Wednesday voted for the eight-week extension of the current status. In general, conservative opposition parties are more reluctant to keep the critical threat status in place for longer periods without review, because it gives extended powers to the government.

The government has called a press briefing at 6:30pm on Wednesday, at which additional coronavirus measures are expected to be announced.

New measures come as the Omicron variant continues to spread in Denmark and record numbers of cases are registered. Wednesday saw 6,629 cases registered by official agency SSI, the second consecutive day a new a record has been set for the pandemic in Denmark.

557 cases of the Omicron variant have now been detected.

“We now have societal spread of the Omicron variant,” Anette Lykke Petri, director of the Danish Patient Safety Authority, said earlier this week.

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TRAVEL NEWS

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.”

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