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Rising concern due to spread of COVID-19 infection

The Danish health authorities have issued a note of concern due to the important growth in numbers of infected during the past week.

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By Bente D. Knudsen

The Danish Health Board’s director, Søren Brostrøm, appeared on Danish television last night to warn of his fear that the Danish hospital system could come under pressure during this winter season, at the same time a note of concern was issued by the Danish Health Board with background information about the current situation, highlighting the issues of concern.

According to Søren Brostrøm, spread of COVID-19 and thus a high number of infected has come quicker than expected this autumn despite a high number of vaccinated. During the past two days more than 2,200 new infections have been registered daily.

Denmark is at a rate of vaccination of 85 percent of those able to be vaccinated, and revaccination of groups at risk is currently taking place.

This means that out of the 5,1 million residents who have been offered the COVID-19 vaccine approximately 4,4 million have been vaccinated.

However, the Delta variant is highly contagious and spread amongst those who are not vaccinated is growing.

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The reason for Health Board’s concern, despite the high number of vaccinated, is that the Danish society is now fully open with no restrictions in place something which increases risk of infection and spread.

Also, the Health Board’s director is concerned about the state of tiredness and under capacity of the Danish hospital sector.

“We are concerned about the pressure which the health sector may be put under during December and January. During the autumn and winter season it is quite normal to see a rise of infectious diseases, however, with the risk of spread of both COVID-19, the flu and other contagious illnesses we are at risk of having a hospital sector under pressure. Compared to last year at the same time our society is running at its normal activity level and therefore we also expect that more residents will become acutely ill also for other reasons than COVID-19.”

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The Danish Health Board is responsible for the Danish hospital sector’s ability to handle the needs of Danish patients and the board is particularly concerned about the increasing pressure which high infection rates could create on the Danish hospital’s emergency care units, medical care departments as well as operative and intensive care units during the winter

“At present we can already see that the Danish hospitals are very busy and that the staff is working at a high tempo, since the work load has been high over a long period there is less surplus energy amongst staff to resist a new high pressure situation, “ Søren Brostrøm said in the note of concern.

The Danish hospital sector has been hard hit by a combination of COVID-19 in 2020 with the postponement of planned operations last year creating long waiting lists for non-essential operations but also the nurse strike during the three-month period June to September 2021 has prolonged the lists and increased pressure on the system.

The Danish Health Board’s ambition is to treat as many patients as possible but according to the board it may be necessary to postpone scheduled operations to make room for those who become acutely ill in the coming months.

“It may unfortunately be so that many patients will experience a postponement in their treatment at the hospital. I can understand the frustration this creates as many have already waited for a long time. The medical staff will help ensure that those who have the greatest need are treated first,” Søren Brostrøm says in the note of concern.

Søren Brostrøm also underlined, both in the note of concern but also on Danish television, that getting vaccinated is still the most important tool in the toolbox and he encouraged as many as possible to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the influenza vaccine (for those offered the free vaccine in the flu risk groups) as well as getting revaccinated, the third booster vaccine.

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Currently the booster vaccine is offered Danish residents above the age of 65 as well as employees in the health care sector and other groups at risk. Also, all Danish residents above the age of 18 who received their second shoot before the 1 June 2021 will be offered the booster vaccine. Invitations to get revaccinated will be sent through the e-Boks mail system.

Whether the booster vaccine will be made available to a wider group than described above is being evaluated by the health authorities. In general, the Danish health authorities follow the recommendation of a 6 month time laps between the second and third vaccine.

The Health Board’s director also encouraged keeping a high focus on hygiene and getting tested even if vaccinated when presenting coronavirus like symptoms such as coughing, a sore throat, running nose or headache.

The Danish test capacity has been greatly increased the past week, more centres have reopened, and free quick test centres are again available.

Read more about the test strategy and the renewed QUICK test centres as of  beginning November 2021 here.

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