Denmark Declares Covid No Longer Poses Threat to Society

Denmark is one of the most vaccinated in the world, and won’t extend the pandemic measures beyond Jan. 31.

Denmark will end virus restrictions next week and reclassify Covid-19 as a disease that no longer poses a threat to society, even as infections hit a record high.

The Nordic country, one of the most vaccinated in the world, won’t extend the pandemic measures beyond Jan. 31, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Wednesday.

Denmark’s decision on reclassifying the virus dramatically pushes forward an idea that’s emerged recently in Europe -- that it’s time to start thinking about Covid as endemic rather than a pandemic. However, World Health Organization experts have warned against complacency.

The easing of curbs also echoes recent moves elsewhere -- including Ireland and the U.K. -- to scale back restrictions amid signs that omicron is less dangerous than earlier variants of the virus. 

There’s also a sense that restrictions just aren’t able to stop the highly transmissible omicron strain. About one million Danes have been infected in the last two months alone, though hospitalizations in the country are declining. The nation of 5.8 million people has 44 Covid-19 patients in intensive-care units, down from 73 two weeks ago.

“The pandemic is still here but with what we know, we now dare to believe that we are through the critical phase,” Frederiksen said, calling the development “a milestone.”

Denmark Declares Covid No Longer Poses Threat to Society

The disease is spreading faster in Denmark after a sub-variant of omicron, BA.2, became the dominant version of the virus in the second week of the year. It may be about 1.5 times more infectious than the BA.1 sub-variant, which accounts for 98% of omicron cases globally, according to preliminary estimates by Danish health authorities.    

Denmark is ahead of its Nordic neighbors. Swedish authorities are extending their restrictions due to a surge in infections but expect to be able to remove most curbs in two weeks. Norway can start gradually stepping down measures as only “extreme” action would slow the spread of the omicron variant, its Institute of Public Health said Wednesday.

Denmark’s current restrictions include limited opening hours for restaurants and bars, use of Covid passports and the requirement of face masks in stores and at some indoor events. 

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