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COVID-19 RULES

Denmark ‘could lift all’ Covid-19 restrictions at end of January

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is expected to announce that Danish Covid-19 restrictions will end on January 31st, according to reports.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at a previous press briefing. Frederiksen could announce an end to domestic Covid-19 restrictions on January 31st.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at a previous press briefing. Frederiksen could announce an end to domestic Covid-19 restrictions on January 31st. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

The end of restrictions could mean all domestic curbs end although travel rules may remain in place, according to reports from several media outlets. Restrictions are currently set to expire on January 31st.

Frederiksen will announce the decision at a government briefing on Wednesday evening, newspaper Jyllands-Posten writes, citing anonymous sources.

The Prime Minister’s office told news wire Ritzau that the scheduling for the briefing was yet to be confirmed.

In addition to lifting restrictions, Frederiksen is expected to announce that Covid-19 will no longer be categorised as a critical threat to society.

The classification, currently scheduled to expire on January 5th, is important because it impacts the ability of the government to introduce restrictions aimed at curbing spread of the virus.

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

The independent Epidemic Commission has recommended the removal of restrictions, according to Jyllands-Posten.

Another Danish newspaper, Politiken, reports that the Commission cites a change in the nature of the Covid-19 epidemic in Denmark as justifying the end of restrictions while infection numbers are higher than at any previous time during the last two years.

“We have a new epidemic situation where high and increasing transmissions do not transfer to admissions to hospitals to the same extent as before,” the Commission said in its recommendations according to Politiken.

Travel restrictions including entry testing and quarantine rules should, however, be extended for a further four weeks, the Commission said according to broadcaster TV2.

READ ALSO: Danish travel rules: What’s the difference between ‘risk’ and ‘high risk’ countries?

While daily infection totals have continued to grow in recent weeks, the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 has not increased by a corresponding amount and the number of patients admitted to ICUs has begun to decline.

An additional 46,950 new cases of the virus were registered on Tuesday with hospital patients with Covid-19 up to 918. This includes 222 people admitted to psychiatric wards who have Covid-19 but it is not the cause of their admission.

44 patients at Danish hospitals are under intensive care treatment for Covid-19, with 28 of them receiving ventilator treatment.

The Danish Health Authority on Monday announced an easing of self-isolation rules following a positive Covid-19 test.

READ ALSO: What are Denmark’s new rules for isolation after testing positive for Covid-19?

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Who is eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine dose in Denmark and when?

Public health officials in Denmark say a low turnout for the second round of Covid booster shots — for most people, their fourth jab — has made them concerned that many don’t realise they’re eligible.

Who is eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine dose in Denmark and when?

 Danish authorities have hardly clear on whether to offer fourth Covid jabs and to whom, since the beginning of 2022.

In January, the government announced that fourth shots would be given to the very elderly and other high risk populations— but that decision was reversed just four weeks later and the fourth Covid dose program was ended.

At a June 22nd press conference, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced plans for a more general booster program in the autumn and added that the ‘particularly vulnerable’ would be eligible for new doses the following week. 

When the Covid vaccination program began in early 2021, Denmark estimated the number of ‘selected patients with particularly increased risk’ that should be prioritised for vaccination at 240,000. But in the month since Frederiksen’s announcement, only about 3,500 people have come in for a fourth jab. Experts say that’s in no small part over confusion as to who is ‘particularly vulnerable.’

Indeed, the Danish Health Authority website doesn’t appear to currently provide a list of conditions that qualify for a second booster and instead refers readers to their primary care provider. That’s unfortunate since even general practitioners are finding it hard to determine who the rules say can get a fourth shot, Danish broadcaster DR reports.

The failure to resolve the issue is putting many patients at risk, some public health experts worry. “With the spread we are seeing with Covid at the moment, I think the Health Authority needs to be very clear about who should get the fourth prick now and who should wait,” Torben Mogensen, chairman of the Lung Association, told DR. 

READ ALSO: Danish health minister says further Covid-19 vaccinations could ward off restriction

What we know for sure 

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women are already eligible for fourth doses
  • People with suppressed immune systems are already eligible 
  • Approximately September 15: fourth doses begin for people in care homes and among ‘particularly vulnerable’ elderly people 
  • October 1st: fourth doses begin for everyone 50 years of age and and over 

Your primary care provider (the one on your yellow card) can refer you for a vaccination appointment, as can doctors at hospitals. 

What factors will your doctor consider? 

Guidelines provided to doctors by the Danish Health Authority ask them to weigh the patient’s age, risk of serious course of illness if infected, their presumed immunity status based on recent infection, and their overall risk of infection based on their living conditions (strangely, crowded living conditions and living in a sparsely populated area both suggest you may need a booster shot). 

…and now for the riddles

In lieu of a list of conditions that might qualify a patient for an early fourth shot, doctors have been offered a series of ‘example patients’ that are eligible for a booster  under the new rules. 

  • 45-year-old woman with reduced immune system due to haematological cancer
  • 74-year-old man with severe obesity and heart failure, who has had recurring lower respiratory tract infections for the past six months and declining functional level
  • 65-year-old woman with severe obesity and diabetes with serious co-morbidities, e.g foot ulcers or chronic kidney failure
  • 82-year-old woman with rapid onset of functional loss (e.g. failing memory, reduced mobility and need for help with personal care) and beginning signs of malnutrition (eats too little, does not gain weight)
  • 23-year-old with cystic fibrosis with frequent pneumonia and hospitalisations
  • 50-year-old male with bowel cancer who has recently completed chemotherapy
  • 85-year-old man who lives with his children and grandchildren in a small home
  • 65-year-old woman who has been operated on for breast cancer and has diabetes, and who needs to travel to an area with high infection
  • 39-year-old resident of a social psychiatric residence, with heavy tobacco consumption, occasional alcohol overconsumption, overweight and in treatment with many different drugs

READ ALSO: Danish hospitals see rise in number of Covid patients 

It’s worth a call or message 

With a particularly nasty flu season on the horizon, public health experts say it’s worth a call, email, or message to your primary care provider if you have any reason to suspect you might be eligible for vaccination. 

“We know that infection rates have been rising both in Denmark and in Europe in recent weeks, and a new variant is on its way in,” Aarhus University professor emeritus of infectious diseases told DR.  “Then comes autumn, when we know that a respiratory virus spreads more than it does in summer. So there’s every reason to get that fourth jab if you’re in the vulnerable groups and it’s been more than six months since you had your third.” 

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