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TODAY IN DENMARK

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

A Danish school evacuated due to a sickening smell, Nigeria prosecuting Danish soldiers in piracy case, and a ringing endorsement for fourth Covid-19 jabs are among the top news stories in Denmark on Friday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday
While you'll need to go to a pharmacy or your general practitioner to get a second Covid booster, recent analyses prove it's worth it -- people with two boosters are 75 percent less likely to be hospitalised than people who received only one. (File Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix)

‘Unpleasant smell’ that sickened children at Danish school is unexplained 

 An Aarhus-area school was evacuated on Thursday after a mysterious smell appeared to be related to new headaches, coughs, and runny noses in students and teachers, newswire Ritzau reports. 

Suspecting some kind of chemical spill, school management reached out to emergency services — but police, the fire brigade and emergency medical responders were unable to identify the cause, according to a tweet by the East Jutland Police. 

However, authorities were able to rule out a chemical spill, police tell broadcaster TV2, and the investigation is ongoing. 

ICYMI: Recent Covid-19 booster jab offers good protection, Danish agency says 

People who received the most recent round of Covid-19 boosters are at significantly lower risk for hospitalisation, according to a recent analysis by the State Serum Institute, Denmark’s infectious disease agency. 

Having a second booster (for most, that would be your fourth dose) provides “around 75 percent better” protection against hospital admission than just three doses, writes Bolette Søborg, senior medical consultant at the SSI, on the agency’s website. 

READ ALSO: Can you get a second Covid-19 booster in Denmark if you are not in a risk group? 

Nigeria to prosecute Danish soldiers involved in piracy case 

This week, Copenhagen District Court began to hear the case against a Nigerian man authorities say is a pirate who participated in an attack on a Danish vessel off the coast of Nigeria in November 2021. 

But now, Nigeria has announced its intention to prosecute the Danish soldiers involved in the same incident, in which four Nigerian nationals were killed. 

“We demand that Denmark release the remaining Nigerian in Danish custody. We demand an apology from Denmark to Nigeria for the behavior of the frigate,” says Nicholas Ella, director of the legal department in Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign affairs, according to newspaper Weekendavisen.  

Ella describes the firefight as the “direct murder of people on the boat,” Weekendavisen reports.

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TODAY IN DENMARK

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

Falling unemployment, the Danish government refusing to accept debt payments from citizens, and plans for a fully swimmable Copenhagen harbour are among the top news stories in Denmark on Friday.

Today in Denmark: A roundup of the news on Friday

Danish government returns debt payments from 138,000 people 

Having a debt to the Danish public sector on your books can have serious financial consequences, including jeopardizing your eligibility to secure a mortgage. But from January to October 2022, 138,000 Danes trying to square their debts with the government were refused due to confusion about whether the Danish Debt Collection Agency actually has the right to receive it, newspaper Berlingske reports.

Data from the agency indicate the number of debts considered “not ready for recovery” has leapt 1.5 million this year alone. Half of those debts are connected to Danish tax agency, Skat. 

According to Berlingske, the issues with ‘unpayable’ debts arose in 2015 when EFI, the IT system Skat used to collect debt, was shuttered. 

Based on the scale of the problem, the government will have to consider cancelling some of the debts, Peter Bjerre Mortensen, professor of public administration at Aarhus University, tells Berlingske. 

“They need to swallow some very big camels and/or simplify some legislation or forgive some debts, because right now it seems that things are still going the wrong way,” Mortensen says. 

READ MORE: ‘Topskat’: What is Denmark’s high income tax bracket? 

Politicians push for ‘fully swimmable’ Copenhagen harbour 

Currently, swimming in Copenhagen’s harbours is only allowed at 11 designated bathing zones — though that doesn’t deter the estimated 200,000 people who take a dip elsewhere in the harbour yearly, risking fines. Now, Copenhagen mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen and other local politicians hope to flip the system on its head, making the vast majority of the harbour swimmable with a few ‘no-go’ zones. 

City officials plan to mark certain areas — for instance, near wastewater outlets or sailboat traffic — with ‘no swimming’ signs. 

READ MORE: Why the shocking cold of winter bathing is a Nordic favourite 

Unemployment continues to fall in Denmark 

October marked another record-breaking low for unemployment in Denmark, according to data from the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment and the Danish Chamber of Commerce. 

Just 11,519 full-time workers were experiencing ‘long-term unemployment’ (meaning they had been unemployed for at least 80 percent of the previous year) in October. That’s down from 12,400 in September, which was the lowest figure in 26 years, according to newswire Ritzau. 

In March 2020, there were 22,000 long-term unemployment benefit recipients, which spiked to 40,000 in April 2021. 

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