Danes Urged to Refrain From Large New Year Parties Amid World-Record Infection Wave
With over 23,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day, Denmark is seen as having the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the world.
Denmark recorded 23,228 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day on Wednesday, 29 December, eclipsing the previous record of 16,164, set on Monday, by over 7,000.
Even before the dismal figures posted on Wednesday, Denmark was this week reported to have the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the world. With the new figures, the Scandinavian country of 5.8 million posted even more cases than Russia, a country of 144 million.
The State Serum Institute (SSI) attributed the record spike to higher PCR test activity following Christmas. Due to high demand, the authorities are currently prioritising people with symptoms of the virus or those in close contact with confirmed cases. The tests yielded a positivity rate of 12.26 percent, which is considerably higher than earlier in the pandemic.
Henrik Nielsen, professor of infectious diseases and senior medical consultant at Aalborg University Hospital, argued that the high numbers reflect widespread community transmission and warned fellow Danes to brace themselves.
At the same time, Nielsen found solace in the number of hospitalisations being lower than the peak numbers reached on 4 January 2020 – amid far lower infection and vaccination numbers.
"But we are starting to get to the level where it begins to hurt", Nielsen argued.
Tyra Grove Krause, academic director at the State Serum Institute, emphasised that the Omicron strain is clearly the dominant variant in Denmark.
"Eighty percent of all positive samples appear to be Omicron now", Grove Krause said. She emphasised that this is not necessarily discouraging news, as studies from South Africa, where the strain was first discovered, England and Scotland, suggest that the Omicron variant is associated with a lower risk of serious disease.
Still, the director of the National Board of Health, Søren Brostrøm, urged fellow Danes to refrain from large New Year celebrations and festivities.
"Limit how many you see, make it short, and be careful with the alcohol", Søren Brostrøm said at a press conference, calling to preferably meet people outside of one's circle of friends outdoors.
In September, three months ago, Denmark became the first European country to lift all remaining domestic restrictions, as the government announced that COVID-19 is no longer a "society-critical disease".
The optimism, however, appeared rather short-lived, as some of the restrcitions were rolled back. Danish COVID-19 cases have since skyrocketed, from the low 200s in September to over 20,000 today.
17 December 2021, 15:22 GMT