Covid-19: Danish health minister says more vaccinations needed to avoid return of restrictions

More of the Danish population must get vaccinated against Covid-19 if the country is to avoid a return to restrictions, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Tuesday.

Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke, who has urged more people in the country to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as infection rates increase .
Danish health minister Magnus Heunicke, who has urged more people in the country to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as infection rates increase . Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

Heunicke’s message came after the number of patients hospitalised with the coronavirus in Denmark approached 200 for the first time in months.

“A huge appeal from me: If we are to keep Denmark open, we must get more people to get the vaccine,” Heunicke said.

Denmark’s reproduction rate or R-number for Covid-19 was 1.2 on Tuesday. That means 10 infected people will pass the virus on to 12 others, thereby allowing the epidemic to spread.

A degree of uncertainty is attached to the measure, which has increased in recent weeks.

The number of new infections registered daily was 1,253 on Tuesday, the seventh consecutive day in which over 1,000 new cases have been registered.

“We knew an increase (in infections) would come this autumn. But it’s no secret that the increase has come rather quickly already here in the month of October,” Heunicke said.

Denmark has a Covid-19 vaccination rate of 75.1 percent of the population, while 76.2 have had at least the first dose of a vaccine.

Unvaccinated people will “in all likelihood” be infected with Covid-19 during the course of the winter, according to Heunicke.

“We are following it very closely. We have always said that we won’t hesitate to react if there was a need to. We have a completely open society and we have very, very strong support from the public for vaccination. Now we need to get more people on board,” the minister said.

An increasing infection rate in society runs the risk of putting hospitals under strain, given the likelihood of more hospitalisations it entails.

Heunicke urged people with symptoms to get tested for the virus.

“We are only in October. That means the winter season is ahead of us, so it could be a very hard season for our hospitals,” he said.

READ ALSO: European travellers warned they may have to self-isolate in UK

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Germany’s weekly Covid infection rate rises above 500

Germany recorded a weekly Covid incidence of more than 500 per 100,000 people on Monday as health experts warn that the fifth wave of the pandemic has only just begun.

Bar in Berlin's Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, which has the highest incidence in the country.
People sit outside bars in the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, where incidences are currently the highest in the country. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

On Monday, the 7-day incidence of Covid infections per 100,000 people stood at 528, up from 515 the day before and 376 a week ago. 

Infections have been rising rapidly as the highly transmissible Omicron variant tightens its hold in Germany. Monday marked the fourth day in a row in which the country posted record incidences.

Since the first incidence of the variant was discovered in the country around seven weeks ago, Omicron has swiftly taken over as the dominant variant in Germany.

It currently accounts for around 73 percent of Covid infections and is expected to almost entirely replace the Delta variant this week. 

Though Omicron generally causes a less severe illness than Delta, experts are concerned that deaths and hospitalisations could remain high due to the unprecedented number of cases Germany could see.

Unlike Delta, Omicron has a large number of mutations that allow it to evade previously built up immunity through vaccinations and illness. 

The World Health Organisation has warned that half of all Europeans could be infected with the virus by spring. 

“After the temporary decline in case numbers, severe disease courses and deaths towards the end of 2021 in the fourth wave, the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has begun in Germany with the dominant circulation of the omicron variant,” the Robert Koch Institute wrote in its weekly report on Thursday.  

Since the first Omicron case was discovered in Germany, there have been 191,422 suspected or proven cases of the variant.

As Welt data journalist Olaf Gersemann pointed out in Twitter, the number of Omicron cases has increased sixfold within a fortnight. 

Increase in hospitalisations

Before this weekend, Germany had hit its previous peak of infections back in November, when the country posted a 7-day incidence of 485 per 100,000 people at during the peak of the fourth wave.

Since then, Covid measures such contact restrictions and blanket 2G (entry only for the vaccinated and recovered) or 2G-plus (vaccinated or recovered with a negative test) have been relatively effective at turning the tide. 


For the past few weeks however, infections have been on the up once again as the Omicron fifth wave begins.

The incidence of hospitalisations in the country appears to also be on the rise again after a few weeks of decline. On Friday, the 7-day incidence of hospitalisations stood at 3.24 per 100,000 people, up from 3.13 the day before.

Over the weekend, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned that Omicron could place additional pressure on the general hospital wards as fewer people end up in intensive care. 

“Depending on how things develop, we may face shortages not only in the intensive care units, but also in the normal wards. There is a threat of entire departments being closed,” he said.

“Rapid spread of the virus would mean hundreds of thousands will become seriously ill and we will have to mourn many thousands of deaths again.” 

Karl Lauterbach

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) speaks at a weekly press conference on Friday, January 14th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Northern states post record incidences

Since the start of the Omicron wave, northern Germany has been disproportionately affected by the virus.

As of Monday, the city-state of Bremen had the highest incidence in the country, with 1389 new cases per 100,000 people recorded in a week.

This was followed by Berlin, which currently has a 7-day incidence of 948, and Hamburg, which recorded a 7-day incidence of 806. The district with the highest incidence in Berlin Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, which posted a weekly incidence of 1597 on Monday. 

In contrast to the fourth wave, the lowest Covid incidences were recorded in the eastern states of Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony. 

On Monday, Thuringia had a weekly incidence of 198 per 100,000 people, while Saxony’s incidence was 249 and Saxony-Anhalt’s was 280.

Somewhat inexplicably, the incidence has been declining in Thuringia in recent weeks, though there is speculation that this could be to do with the fact that Omicron has not yet spread in the state.

Nine of the sixteen German states have incidences of more than 500 per 100,000 people.