Five key things Danish PM said about country’s coronavirus situation

During a briefing on Monday evening, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stressed key government messages relating to the current status of the Covid-19 epidemic in Denmark.

Danish PM Mette Frederiksen had a clear message for unvaccinated people in Denmark during a press briefing on November 8th.
Danish PM Mette Frederiksen had a clear message for unvaccinated people in Denmark during a press briefing on November 8th. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Frederiksen on Monday announced the government would reintroduce requirements to show a valid coronapas (Covid-19 health pass) at bars, restaurants and some events.

During the briefing, Frederiksen and other senior officials confirmed the decision and underlined a number of other messages related to the Covid-19 situation as Denmark enters late autumn.

READ ALSO: Danish parliament expected to green-light return of coronapas

Frederiksen urges unvaccinated to get a jab

The prime minister did not mince words as she stressed the importance of vaccination in keeping infections and pressure on hospitals at bay.

Frederiksen, along with Health Minister Magnus Heunicke, Danish Health Authority director Søren Brostrom and Henrik Ullum, head of the national infectious disease agency SSI, all pointed out Denmark’s high vaccination rate while saying it also needs to be higher.

“It can’t be said clearly enough. Those of you who are not yet been vaccinated: do so,” Frederiksen said.

Data clearly shows lower infection rates and lower hospitalisation rates, and less time spent in hospital with Covid-19 for people who are vaccinated, she said.

“For all of you who are not vaccinated, (things) are going to become more difficult. And that’s also how I think it should be,” she added with reference to incoming coronapas requirements.

Denmark currently has a Covid-19 vaccination rate of just over 75 percent.

Government does not expect new lockdown

A new national lockdown echoing those put into place in March and December 2020 is not an eventuality the government is working towards, Frederiksen said on Monday.

“We are considering to a greater degree what we can do to stop the views small group of unvaccinated people have on the vaccine from ruining everything for the vast majority,” she said when asked about the potential for lockdowns.

The PM did not go into further details as to what that would entail.

Elevation of Covid-19 to “critical threat” status

The government supports upgrading Covid-19 to the status of “critical threat to society”, following a recommendation from the advisory Epidemic Commission and reversing move in September which saw the status of the virus downgraded and earlier restrictions lifted. 

The commission includes representatives from health authorities, the police and four ministries.

A disease is considered a “critical threat” when it threatens the functions of society as a whole, by for instance, overwhelming the health system.

In such instances, the government can impose bans on people gathering, close schools, demand Covid-19 passes, and mandate use of face masks, provided a parliamentary majority does not oppose this.

“We cannot let the virus run wild in Denmark,” Frederiksen said.

Return of coronapas

The government on Monday wants to reintroduce rules requiring a valid coronapas at bars, restaurants, nightclubs and large events, amid surging cases of the coronavirus in Denmark.

The coronapas is used to document a recent negative Covid-19 test or immunity against the virus due to vaccination or recent recovery from infection.

The health pass will also be required at indoor events with over 200 spectators and outdoors events with over 2,000 spectators.

The period for which earlier infection can form the basis for a valid coronapas will be reduced from 12 months to 6 months, Heunicke said during the briefing.

Rules requiring the pass will apply to those over the age of 15, in a change from the earlier minimum age of 16.

Parliament is expected to give the necessary backing for the move.

Upcoming local elections get Covid-19 safety focus

Provisions to cast a ballot outdoors will be made available at next week’s municipal and regional elections.

Frederiksen said outdoors voting would be offered at poll stations across the country for the November 16th elections. She also said poll stations would ensure adequate cleaning and that hand sanitizer was available.

“You are also welcome to bring a facemask and your own pen, if you are most comfortable with this,” the prime minister said.

Over 400,000 foreign nationals, including non-EU citizens, are eligible to vote in the local elections.

READ ALSO: How to vote as a foreign resident in Denmark’s local elections

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Three cases of new Covid variant detected in Denmark

Denmark’s infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute (SSI) says it is keeping tabs on BA.2.86, a new subvariant of the Covid-19 variant Omicron, which has been detected in several countries including Denmark.

Three cases of new Covid variant detected in Denmark

SSI said on Friday that it had found a third case of a new subvariant of Omicron, called BA.2.86, in Denmark.

The subvariant was detected in Denmark this week and three cases of it have been found so far. Isolated cases have also been reported in Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom.

It is still too early to conclude anything about how contagious the subvariant is, or whether it causes more serious disease than other types of Omicron, SSI said on its website.

None of the three cases in Denmark have had symptoms different from ordinary Covid-19, however. SSI expects that vaccines will provide good protection against serious disease, the agency’s medical director Tyra Grove Krause said in the statement.

“We also do not consider that the increase in infections we have seen in recent weeks is due to this new virus variant,” Krause also said.

SSI is currently cultivating the subvariant at its own labs to assess how effective antibodies from existing  Covid-19 vaccines are against it.

Although SSI appears relaxed about the sub-variant, it nevertheless differs “significantly” from the other variants of omicron. This makes it unusual according to Morten Rasmussen, a senior researcher with the disease control agency.

“It is unusual for corona to change so markedly and develop 30 new mutations. The last time we saw a big change was when Omicron emerged,” he said in the statement.

SSI said in a social media post on Wednesday that the variant had been detected in two people in Denmark and one in Israel. This was the first time the subvariant had been confirmed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday classified the variant as a “variant under monitoring” (VUM).

The first case of the new variant was registered on July 24th according to the WHO and there has since been considerable international attention on the variant.