Denmark eases Covid restrictions, as cases hit new record

Germany, UK, France and Italy recorded more than 100,000 new infections in one day

Cinemas, museums and other cultural institutions reopened in Denmark after a month-long Covid-19 lockdown. Photograph: iStock

Cinemas, museums and other cultural institutions reopened in Denmark after a month-long Covid-19 lockdown. Photograph: iStock

 

Denmark registered a record number of coronavirus infections on Monday, as cinemas, museums and other cultural institutions reopened after a month-long Covid-19 lockdown.

The Nordic country registered 28,780 new cases in the space of 24 hours and the number of coronavirus-related hospitalisations rose to 802, the highest in a year.

Still, health authorities said earlier this month that the now-predominant Omicron variant was milder than initially thought and that around 29 per cent of those in hospital were there due to reasons other than COVID-19.

Since a peak of 82 on January 6th, the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care had fallen steadily to 52 on Monday.

As a consequence, lawmakers last week agreed to ease restrictions, including reopening theatres, cinemas, museums, entertainment parks and botanic gardens and allow limited spectators at indoor and outdoor sports events.

Denmark has high support for Covid-19 vaccination, with four out of five having received two jabs and just over half of the population with three jabs.

Vaccine requirement

France registered a record number of daily Covid-19 infections as the omicron variant spreads across the country, sending a growing number of patients to hospitals.

New cases totalled 464,769 on Tuesday, according to data from the public health office. That far surpassed the previous high of 368,149 recorded a week ago.

The surge comes as France is poised to require a complete vaccination requirement for many public activities – from eating in restaurants to attending the theatre or getting on an airplane – saying a recent negative test isn’t good enough anymore.

The change looms after president Emmanuel Macron took Europe’s aggressive stance against the unvaccinated up a notch earlier this month, saying he wants to “p**s off” people who don’t get their shots.

The number of patients hospitalised with Covid climbed by more than 3,000 in a week to 26,526 on Tuesday, with 3,881 people being treated in intensive care, not far below an eight-month high reached on January 12th.

There were 375 new deaths linked to Covid on Tuesday, bringing the total recorded since the pandemic began to 127,638.

Spreading fast

Germany joined the UK, France and Italy in recording more than 100,000 new Covid-19 infections on one day, adding to evidence that the highly contagious omicron variant is spreading fast across Europe’s largest economy.

Another 112,323 infections were registered after 74,405 on the previous day, according to data published Wednesday by Germany’s public-health institute RKI.

Germany has tightened restrictions on access to restaurants and cafes and pledged to accelerate vaccinations to fight the rapidly spreading omicron strain. But policy makers have signalled additional measures might be needed as the country’s parliament prepares to discuss introducing mandatory vaccinations. The new government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz has refrained so far from resorting to sweeping lockdown measures like shuttering businesses and schools again.

The seven-day incidence rate was 584.4 per 100,000 people.

The federal government and state leaders agreed recently to allow people to test out of quarantine after one week instead of the current 14 days to avert staff shortages in critical services, while people with a booster shot will be exempt from having to isolate. They made an “urgent recommendation” for wearing particle-filtering FFP-2 masks in stores and on public transport.

Authorities will meet again on January 24th. – Reuters and Bloomberg