Covid-19 epidemic in Denmark ‘increases mildly’ for fourth week

Denmark has seen a mild increase in its coronavirus infections for the fourth consecutive week.

Covid-19 epidemic in Denmark 'increases mildly' for fourth week
Coronavirus information at a gym in Copenhagen. photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

The number of daily infections with Covid-19 was under 1,000 for the fourth day in a row on Tuesday, but the R-number or reproduction rate for the virus has been calculated at 1.1, as it was in the three preceding weeks.

An R-number of 1.1 means that 10 people with the virus will pass it on to an average of 11 others, giving a mild overall increasing epidemic.

“It is the fourth consecutive week we are maintaining around the same level and that gives us a mildly increasing epidemic,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote on Twitter.

Heunicke noted a number of elements of Denmark’s current strategy against the virus which he said are helping to limit increased spread of the virus.

“Efficient vaccine rollout, intensive testing, fast contact tracing and closing off of local infection clusters are our most important weapons,” he wrote.

Latest data shows that 32 percent of the population has so far received at least a first dose of the coronavirus. Just over 20 percent have received both doses.

The R-number has a lag associated because it looks at cases which have already been confirmed, not those occurring at the current time. As such, it reflects the infection situation around 1.5 weeks ago. It is still a useful measure, however, because health authorities use it as a marker for trends in the epidemic.

A total of 794 new cases of the virus were registered in the latest daily totals to be published by the national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI).

That represents the fourth day in a row in which that figure has been under 1,000. 139,159 PCR tests were conducted, giving a test positivity rate of 0.57.

The number of Covid-19 inpatients at Danish hospitals now stands at 148, five more than on Monday.

READ ALSO: Danish engineers first to be jabbed under voluntary vaccine scheme

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Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death.