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World News

Denmark extends hard lockdown until January 17 amid spike in infections

FILE PHOTO: General view of Bruuns Galleri, after government's decision to close department stores until January due to increasing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, in Aarhus, Denmark December 17, 2020. Mikkel Berg Pedersen/Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark has extended a hard lockdown for two weeks, until Jan. 17, to limit the spread of COVID-19, following a drastic spike in new infections over the past month, the country’s prime minister said on Tuesday.

“The situation regarding infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths is now even more serious than in the spring,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press briefing.

The extension of the current country-wide restrictions announced on Dec. 16 will keep schools, shopping malls, restaurants, bars and other non-essential shops closed, Frederiksen said.

The Nordic country has fared relatively well through the pandemic until December, when the number of new infections more than doubled compared with the previous month.

“The scenario we feared in the spring may become a reality in the coming weeks and months if we don’t act now,” Frederiksen said.

Denmark on Tuesday reported 2,621 new cases among its population of 5.8 million over the past 24 hours, while the number of new hospitalisations rose by 28 to a record 900, close to the maximum capacity of its COVID-19 wards.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Alison Williams and Dan Grebler

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