Covid-19: Omicron variant now dominant in Denmark as infections record broken again

Tuesday saw another new record for daily new cases of Covid-19 in Denmark as health authorities said the Omicron variant is now dominant in the country.

Omicron is now the dominant form of Covid-19 in Denmark, health minister Magnus Heunicke said on December 21st.
Omicron is now the dominant form of Covid-19 in Denmark, health minister Magnus Heunicke said on December 21st. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

A total of 13,558 new cases of the virus were registered by national agency State Serum Institute (SSI), the highest figure throughout the pandemic.

Denmark has repeatedly broken its recorded for daily new cases since the beginning of December.

“SSI’s assessment is that Omicron is already the dominant variant and still spreading,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote on Twitter.

According to SSI, 501 of the new infections occurred in people who have previously had Covid-19. The criteria for this is that they tested positive for the virus at least 60 days ago.

The 13,558 new cases were found from 243,077 tests, giving a positivity rate of 5.58 percent.

The reproduction rate or R-number of the virus is now 1.2, indicating a growing epidemic, Heunicke also tweeted.

An R-number over 1.0 reflects a growth in the pandemic because it means 10 people with the virus will infect at least another 11. The value is an estimate and comprises a lag of around 10 days.

The number of hospitalised patients with the virus is now 554, 27 fewer than Monday’s figure. This may be related to discharges which are often high on Monday and lower on weekends.

New restrictions were introduced on Sunday in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. These include closures of parts of the leisure and entertainment sectors, widened face mask requirements and capacity limits in stores and on long distance public transport.

READ ALSO: Denmark changes Covid-19 isolation rules for close contacts

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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.