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Denmark says COVID-19 not a ‘socially critical disease’, scraps restrictions

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Denmark has became one of the first European Union countries to scrap most pandemic restrictions as the country no longer considers the COVID-19 outbreak “a socially critical disease”.

The reason for that is that while the Omicron variant is surging in Denmark, it is not placing a heavy burden on the health system and the country has a high vaccination rate, officials have said.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told Danish radio it was too early to know if measures may have to make a comeback.

“I dare not say that it is a final goodbye to restrictions,” she said. 

“We do not know what will happen in the autumn. Whether there will be a new variant.”

Denmark, a country of 5.8 million, has in recent weeks registered more than 50,000 daily cases on average while the number of people in hospital intensive care units has dropped.

Other EU countries also are relaxing measures. 

Ireland dropped most of its restrictions and the Netherlands also has been easing its lockdown although Dutch bars and restaurants still have to close their doors at 10pm.

The head of the Danish Health Authority, Søren Brostrøm, told Danish broadcaster TV2 that his attention was on the number of people in ICUs rather than on the number of infections. 

He said that number had “fallen and fallen and is incredibly low”.

He said 32 coronavirus patients are in ICUs. 

Several weeks ago, it was 80.

The most visible restriction disappearing is the wearing of face masks, which are no longer mandatory on public transportation, shops and for standing clients in restaurant indoor areas. 

Authorities only recommend mask use in hospitals, health care facilities and nursing homes.

Another restriction that no longer is required is the digital pass used to enter nightclubs, cafes, party buses and to be seated indoors in restaurants.

Health authorities urged people to get tested regularly so the country can “react quickly if necessary,” as Health Minister Minister Magnus Heunicke said last week.

Danes “have been very successful in our national vaccine program throughout 2021, a lot of people have received two vaccination shots, and a lot have received three doses as well, and many of those doses were provided in the fourth quarter of 2021,” Jens Lundgren, a professor of viral diseases at the Copenhagen University Hospital told the Associated Press.

More than 60 per cent of Denmark’s population over the age of 12 have had the third shot, according to official figures.

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