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Christmas Parties Under Threat as Denmark's COVID-19 Cases Reach Record High

CC BY 2.0 / Thomas Rousing / A Copenhagen street decorated for Christmas festivities
A Copenhagen street decorated for Christmas festivities - Sputnik International
In what the nation's Health Minister Magnus Heunicke described as a second wave, Denmark has exceeded its spring record in the number of new infections and is facing new restrictions envisaged by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

A total of 763 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Denmark in a single day, the highest-ever figure registered in the country, according to the State Serum Institute (SSI).

By jumping over 700 cases in a day, Denmark has broken its record for new coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period. The previous record of 678 was set on 25 September.

The 760 new infections out of over 43,018 tests yield a positive test rate of roughly 1.8 percent, which is a notable increase from the 1.4 percent recorded last week.

“When the percentage of positive tests rises as it is has been over several weeks now, that is not a sign that we are heading towards a good place in the epidemic”, Thea Kølsen Fischer, a professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the University of Copenhagen and head of research at Nordsjællands Hospital, told the newspaper Ekstra Bladet earlier this week.

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke called the coming days decisive and warned that the country will see new restrictions unless the infections slow down.

“I will not rule out any tightened restrictions or rules at all”, Heunicke told Danish Radio, describing the events as a “second wave”.

The same sentiment was echoed by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who stressed that Denmark has found itself in the same boat as other European nations that have tightened or reintroduced their restrictions.

“Corona is back. And we are going to introduce further restrictions”, Frederiksen said, as quoted by TV2, stressing the severity of the situation after a period of persistently high infection numbers.

The government is reportedly looking at a slew of measures, including further limiting public gatherings, imposing extra restrictions on cafes, restaurants and bars, as well as expanding face mask requirements.

Today, gatherings of upward of 50 people are prohibited in Denmark. During the national lockdown this spring, the limit was set at 10. Face masks are mandatory in public transport and eateries and are strongly recommended when attending hospitals, care homes, and clinics.

While refraining from giving exact details on the new restrictions, Frederiksen warned her countrymen that they can expect a bare Christmas without traditional parties, which in Denmark are beloved episodes of drinking and merriment. Frederiksen described them as potential pockets of infection.

At the same time, Frederiksen underscored that the authorities have no desire to close workplaces, schools, or other educational institutions, as was the case earlier this year, when numerous pundits predicted a nosedive for the Danish economy of proportions unseen since World War II.

So far, Denmark has seen over 38,000 COVID-19 cases, with nearly 700 fatalities.

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