Denmark's leading experts in infectuous diseases have predicted a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in the upcoming six weeks, comparing the current situation, which has already led to a national lockdown, to the calm before a storm.
While fewer that than 1,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus so far, the COVID-19 epidemic is expected to reach its peak in late April.
“In the middle or the end of April, the maximum spread of infection will occur, according to our expectations. This is where most people will be infected at the same time, and most will need hospitalisation”, Jens Lundgren, a professor of infectious diseases at Rigshospitalet, told Danish Radio.
Else Smith, a specialist in community medicine and former director of the National Board of Health, expects the number of the infected to fall around 1 May.
“We are a few weeks into the epidemic, and in six weeks or something like that it will peak. If it is a fairly uniform curve, one would imagine that between 200,000 to 300,000 people will have had coronavirus at that time. But the vast majority won't need medical help at all”, Smith said.
The National Board of Health estimated that up to 600,000 could be infected in the first wave of the epidemic this spring.
“That's a really large number. Many people won't get seriously ill and will easily manage it at home and get healthy again. But a fraction of those who get infected will need hospital treatment. It is a situation that we can handle very well right now, but we may be very challenged when the outbreak peaks, and there are a whole lot of people who get infected at the same time”, Jens Lundgren mused.
According to the National Board of Health estimate, 11,000 of those infected will need hospital treatment, with 2,900 up for intensive care.
Denmark became the first Scandinavian nation to introduce drastic measures to curb the spread of the virus. In addition to closing borders, schools and universities, sending non-essential public sector employees on paid leave and cancelling all public events with over 100 people, Copenhagen introduced a $390 million package of relief measures to palliate the brunt of the epidemic.
As of today, 914 Danes have tested positive for the coronavirus, including some single cases on the Faroe Islands and in Greenland. However, since only people with severe symptoms have been tested, the real number of infected is expected to be higher.
The coronavirus outbreak originated in the Hubei province of China in late 2019 and has since spread to over 100 countries. It was recently proclaimed a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, as the number of infected exceeded 182,000 people, with over 7,100 deaths, and almost 80,000 patients successfully recovered.