Denmark, which barely a month ago removed all restrictions, risks new shutdowns if more citizens are not vaccinated against the coronavirus, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke has warned.
“If we are to keep Denmark open, we must have more people get the vaccine”, the health minister said, as quoted by TV2. “We knew there would be an increase this autumn. But it is no secret that that increase has come pretty quickly already in October,” Heunicke added.
So far, 75 percent of the Danish population has been vaccinated. Despite the high vaccination rate, however, the number of new cases of infection is rising.
On Tuesday, for the seventh day in a row, more than 1,000 new cases were registered nationwide, a level unseen in months. Among others, professor emeritus of infectious diseases at Aarhus University Eskild Petersen ventured that the epidemic is developing “in the wrong direction.”
Health Minister Heunicke emphasised that vaccination must continue to be voluntary, but at the same time warned all those who have opted out that it “no longer works.”
However, the opposition liberal-conservative party Venstre argued that Heunicke is breaking a key agreement by threatening to reintroduce restrictions. Venstre health spokesman Martin Geertsen called the warning “unacceptable” and contrary to Denmark’s path through the pandemic so far.”
Here, the population has taken responsibility, and it does not help to scold people. It is a completely wild message by the health minister to threaten to shut down society,” Martin Geertsen told TV2.
Before the COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out, inoculation was highlighted as an effective weapon against the virus and a prerequisite for returning to normalcy. Therefore, Martin Geertsen saw Heunicke’s threat as a breach of agreement that high vaccine adherence was tantamount to a farewell to restrictions and lockdowns.
The Conservatives health spokesman, Per Larsen, ventured that the current situation doesn’t speak in favour of closure. “We have a very high vaccination rate in Denmark with some really good vaccines”, he told TV2.
Denmark became one of the first nations in the EU to launch a post-COVID reopening, citing a high vaccination level, as one of the underlying reasons. The last restrictions were shed in September, when coronavirus formally ceased to be a “socially critical disease”. Hereby, the government lost legal authority to impose special rules in society, including assembly bans, demand for COVID passports, and mask mandates. If the restrictions are to be reimposed, it requires COVID-19 to regain its formal status as socially critical.
So far, Denmark, a nation of 5.8 million, has seen 379,000 cases of COVID, with 2,700 deaths.
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