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COVID-19 RULES

Government advisors say Denmark can end Covid-19 restrictions on February 1st

The Epidemic Commission, which advises the government on management of the Covid-19 pandemic, has issued new recommendations in relation to whether restrictions should continue. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is expected to make an announcement on Wednesday.

Denmark could scrap rules requiring face masks in stores and on public transport, along with other Covid-19 restrictions, at the end of January.
Denmark could scrap rules requiring face masks in stores and on public transport, along with other Covid-19 restrictions, at the end of January. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The Commission said it recommends the end of current Covid-19 restrictions on January 31st, but that entry test and isolation rules for travel to Denmark are extended. Face mask use at hospitals and in elderly care should continue, it also said.

Travel rules should be based on the model used until rules were tightened in late December, the Commission said.

Should the recommendations of the Commission be followed, Covid-19 will also cease being 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.

Frederiksen is expected to make an announcement at a briefing on Wednesday.

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Current Covid-19 restrictions include requirements to wear a face mask on public transport, in stores and a list of other public settings; and the use of the Covid-19 health pass, the coronapas, at restaurants, cafes, gyms and long-distance rail and bus services amongst other settings.

In its recommendations issued late on Tuesday, the Commission stated that Denmark is now in a “new epidemic situation where high and increasing transmissions do not transfer to admissions to hospitals to the same extent as before”.

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 decline in admissions is probably due to the effect of booster vaccination as well as the lesser ability of Omicron to elicit serious illness,” the Commission stated in its recommendations.

Although it no longer believes Covid-19 should be classed a critical threat to society, some measures to limit transmission are still beneficial, it said.

As such, large indoor events could be asked to use the coronapas and social distancing measures, and workplaces could take precautions to protect staff once home working ends, it said.

In general, the advisory board advocated a switch in focus from requirements and rules to recommendations.

A final decision on changes to restrictions is taken by the government, which must get approval from a majority in parliament before implementing changes.

The Epidemic Commission gives both medical and economic advice to the government regarding its ongoing management of the pandemic.

Its members include representatives from all the various health authorities as well as the National Police. Senior civil servants from various ministries are also present.

The government and parliament generally broadly follow the recommendations made by the Commission.

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COVID-19 RULES

Denmark’s infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

Travellers from China should not need a negative Covid-19 test when arriving in Denmark, the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute recommended on Saturday, in an assessment sent to the Ministry of Health.

Denmark's infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

In the assessment by the State Serum Institute (SSI), it was noted that there aren’t expected to be a large number of arrivals coming directly from China and that any tests would have a marginal affect on Danish epidemic control.

However SSI wrote that it was still important to keep an eye on new variants of Covid-19 and suggested that a sample of voluntary-based PCR tests could be introduced for travellers from China.

The assessment was requested by Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde, following a recommendation on Wednesday by European Union experts to tighten travel rules.

Infection rates in China are high after it abolished its ‘zero Covid’ policy in late 2022, although no precise numbers are available.

Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the UK, had already introduced testing requirements, while Sweden on Thursday announced a similar step, as did Germany, with an added announcement on Saturday to discourage non-essential travel from Germany to China.

The United States, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan have also put testing rules in place.

Health minister Sophie Løhde also asked SSI to assess testing waste water from aircraft landed from China. SSI responded that there is limited experience in this.

SSI currently analyses samples from shared toilet tanks at four airports twice a week – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Billund. The method would have to be changed in order to detect new Covid-19 variants, which would take up to four weeks to implement, according to the assessment.

Løhde has informed the parliamentary parties about the assessment and has asked the Epidemic Commission for an advisory assessment, she said in a press release. Once this is done, the recommendations will be discussed. 

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