Inside Denmark’s ‘Reside With Covid’ Strategy

SJAELLANDS ODDE, Denmark – Boarding a ferry sure for Denmark’s second largest metropolis on Friday, Allan Hjorth stood out. He was one of many few passengers carrying masks, whereas tons of of others wore naked faces, having fun with the tip of the Covid-19 restrictions introduced a couple of days earlier.

Mr Hjorth mentioned: “Simply carrying a masks makes folks really feel like one thing is fallacious. He paused after a couple of seconds and added, “And we, in Denmark, wish to imagine we’ll be again to regular.”

Nearly two years after the pandemic, the “regular” appears to be like like this in one of many world’s most affluent international locations: 5.8 million folks dwell uninhibited by Covid, despite the fact that practically 1% of them have examined constructive for coronavirus in simply sooner or later final week. Reporting nation one of the highest Covid-19 cases per capita in the worldand hospital admissions hit an all-time excessive.

However the authorities introduced that as of February 1, it would now not take into account Covid a “critical social illness” and drop all restrictions, together with the necessary carrying of masks in enclosed areas. and on public transport.

Given the present surge in infections, it might appear counterintuitive to raise restrictions, however the nation’s authorities say the variety of deaths and hospitalizations is rising far more slowly than infections. Covid-19 an infection and the variety of sufferers within the ICU is at its lowest degree in months.

Denmark’s Well being Minister Magnus Heunicke mentioned the nation wouldn’t overcome the pandemic. However he mentioned it was the precise time to profit from the dovishness of Omicron and the country’s high vaccination rate – 81 % of the inhabitants has been absolutely immunized and 62 % has acquired a booster shot.

“We promised everybody that as quickly as we may, we might be extra open,” Heunicke mentioned in an interview. “But when there’s a new variant, if we all know that the vaccine is just not efficient, we is not going to hesitate to do what is critical. That is the contract. ”

Whereas many European international locations have been slowly shifting away from coronavirus containment and restrictions, the Nordic international locations generally are shifting sooner. Norway additionally dropped practically all restrictions this month, together with necessary telework, alcohol serving limits and a ban on beginner sports activities. Sweden is anticipated subsequent on Wednesday.

“All people is aware of that there will likely be waves of recent coronavirus infections subsequent fall or in winter,” mentioned Espen Nakstad, assistant director of the Norwegian Directorate of Well being. “However there isn’t any level in worrying proper now.”

The top of restrictions in Denmark, welcomed by the nation’s prime medical consultants and lauded by the folks, may assist herald a future wherein wealthy international locations can afford to “dwell collectively”. with the virus”, so long as they’ve excessive vaccination charges, enormous testing capability, and powerful medical knowledge infrastructure.

There isn’t a assure that the following variation of concern Virologists say it could possibly be as delicate as Omicron for most individuals, warning that Denmark’s reopening may quickly backfire.

On Saturday, 1000’s of individuals flocked to Copenhagen’s nightclubs, which reopened final week for the primary time in practically two months. Youngsters on their approach to a motor racing occasion gathering 7,000 folks indoors in central Denmark mentioned they took little dangers as a result of that they had Covid through the Christmas vacation.

And on the ferry to Aarhus, 70-year-old Mr Hjorth mentioned he wouldn’t put on a masks on the occasion he would attend within the night.

In Denmark, the coronavirus is all over the place, however the streets, cafes and outlets are nonetheless full. Tens of 1000’s of individuals have been quarantined due to their constructive check outcomes, however staff are again within the workplace, and bars and eating places are now not required to shut at 11 p.m. or ask for proof of vaccinations. .

Troels Lillebaek, director of the Copenhagen-based Statens Serum Institute, mentioned the reopening would most certainly result in a peak in infections by mid-February, however authorities have primarily centered on numbers. hospitalizations, not the variety of instances.

Some have known as this technique dangerous. Stephen Griffin, an affiliate professor of virology on the College of Leeds within the UK, mentioned that though the hyperlink between an infection and critical end result had been weakened in Denmark, deaths and ICU capability shouldn’t be the identical components. the one issue to be thought of.

“Simply because there are sufficient beds for the sufferers,” Mr. Griffin mentioned, “isn’t the intention purported to be to stop them from getting sick within the first place?”

Dr Jens Lundgren, a professor of infectious illnesses on the College of Copenhagen, says that to manage the present surge in infections, Denmark should impose enormous restrictions which might be disproportionate to the connection. well being menace. “So we principally let the Omicron pandemic kick in.”

Denmark was one of many first international locations in Europe to impose a lockdown in 2020, even when it is not among the many international locations hardest hit by the pandemic. It has moved out and in of restrictions, adopting a versatile method that has been praised by its residents.

Though various controversies have affected the recognition of the federal government, together with kill 17 million mink out of worry of a mutation within the virus, trust the authorities continues to be excessive.

“We do not even want to contemplate necessary vaccinations,” Well being Minister Heunicke mentioned. “It is a actually good place to remain, I do know that.”

At a nightclub with tons of of individuals partying on Saturday, 20-year-old Sara Vang mentioned many younger folks have needed to dwell with the virus. She mentioned she developed a excessive fever and generally struggled to breathe when she was contaminated earlier this yr, even after three doses of the vaccine. However she added, “Sadly, having Covid with unhealthy signs feels half of what’s now regular.”

Others, like Mr Hjorth on the ferry, argued that authorities might have saved public transport laws secret, or {that a} slower reopening method would give them peace of thoughts. Ingrid Fensteen, 82, of Copenhagen, mentioned: ‘They left it to us to get sick.

A document variety of folks have been hospitalized in current weeks – 1,294 as of Monday. Denmark, which nonetheless has the bottom Covid mortality fee in Europe, is now recording extra Covid deaths than within the first weeks of the pandemic, and on par with figures registered in February final yr.

However 31 persons are within the intensive care unit, the bottom degree since November. Mr. Lillebaek famous that these hospitalized with the coronavirus have been discharged sooner than in earlier waves of infections.

Michael Bang Petersen, a professor of political science at Aarhus College who conducts an interdisciplinary research of public notion of the pandemic, mentioned Danes see the bottom degree of menace for the reason that starting of the pandemic. Translate.

“Omicron has turned the epidemiological state of affairs right into a Rorschach trial, the place you possibly can see what you wish to see in it,” he mentioned.

Mr. Heunicke mentioned that a lot of the nation’s inhabitants already has some immunity, and the aim is to keep away from any new lockdowns subsequent winter. Nevertheless, he mentioned that the present technique might not be sustainable, because it depends on costly testing capability that even Denmark might not have the ability to afford in the long run.

Mr Griffin, a professor of virology at Leeds, mentioned Denmark was higher positioned than Britain or the US to ease restrictions. Nevertheless, he mentioned, “I hope that they do not pay the value of not retaining their nerve for a couple of extra weeks.”

Jasmina Nielsen Contribution reviews from Copenhagen, and Henrik Pryser Libell from Oslo. Inside Denmark’s ‘Reside With Covid’ Strategy

Fry Electronics Team

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