Danish Pundits Recommend Return of Face Masks, Vaccination Passports Amid COVID Surge
In September, Denmark lifted all of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions, citing a high vaccination rate and declaring that the virus was no longer a "critical threat to society". However, the rapid decline of the situation has since prompted a call for action from medical professionals.
Current coronavirus infection rates in the country are high enough to justify an intervention, with measures such as masks and COVID passports, Danish experts have said.
While the Scandinavian country proudly lifted all of its remaining COVID-19 restrictions earlier this autumn, declaring that the virus was no longer a "critical threat to society", the situation rapidly deteriorated in October. A total of 1,981 new cases were reported on Tuesday, following a two-week streak of 1,000 plus cases per day, and the number of COVID patients in hospital also increased, reaching numbers not see since February.
Given the rising status of the pandemic with a high reproduction rate, experts called to reintroduce more drastic measures to avoid a broad spread.
"There are a whole lot of infected people in society whom we know nothing of. If everyone wears a face mask in public places, that would include people who are infected without knowing it", Eskild Petersen, professor in infectious diseases at Aarhus University's Department of Clinical Medicine, told Danish Radio, venturing that mask obligations combined with COVID passports would reduce infection "here and now".
"The COVID passport can create spaces where there's a relatively low chance of getting infected", Aarhus University professor of public health Christian Wejse told Danish Radio. "At the same time it can motivate more people to get vaccinated and tested, and I think we need that in the current situation".
However, since COVID-19 was downgraded from "society-critical" to "dangerous to public health", the powers of the government to respond have also changed. The Danish government can no longer unilaterally impose bans on people gathering, close schools, demand COVID-19 passes, and mandate the use of face masks, instead having to rely on a parliamentary majority it currently lacks.
25 October 2021, 06:23 GMT
Denmark has a relatively high vaccination rate of over 75 percent and has also begun administering booster shots to swaths of the population, as Health Minister Magnus Heunicke called for more people to get jabbed.
Overall, Denmark, a nation of 5.8 million, has seen 389,000 cases of COVID-19, with over 2,700 deaths.