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Denmark extends lockdown to combat more contagious coronavirus variant

Kitco News

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark on Wednesday extended hard lockdown measures by at least three weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, in particular a more transmissible variant of the virus that is spreading in the Nordic country.

Denmark has so far registered 208 cases of the new variant dubbed cluster B 1.1.7., which was first registered in Britain and has spread across Europe.

“It is the growth that is extremely worrying,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told a news conference late on Wednesday.

“This means that we will see a situation with sharply increasing infection rates later in the winter, if the situation continues as it is now,” he said.

In the first week of January, 3.6% of all positive cases were the more transmissible variant, up from 2.4% at the end of December.

The reproduction number, a measure of how many people one person infects on average, is currently around 0.9. But in isolation, the figure for the new variant is around 1.2, authorities said on Wednesday.

Current restrictions in Denmark, now in effect until Feb 7., include a five-person limit on public gatherings and the closure of bars, restaurants and schools.

The government has advised against any travel abroad and restricted incoming travel - curbs that were also extended on Wednesday.

Denmark saw a drastic spike in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in December, although numbers have stabilized in the first weeks of January.

On Wednesday, the country reported 1,358 new cases and 37 coronavirus-related deaths, while the number of hospitalizations fell by 58 to 859.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Jon Boyle and Cynthia Osterman

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