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New coronavirus variant spreads in Denmark despite epidemic receeding

FILE PHOTO: A view of a deserted Stroeget street amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Copenhagen, Denmark January 12, 2021. Emil Helms Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark is registering a rise in infections with a more contagious coronavirus variant known as cluster B.1.1.7, first identified in Britain, despite seeing regular infections fall.

Denmark implemented hard lockdown measures in December following a rapid rise in new infections and the discovery of a new and more contagious variant, which authorities now expect to be the dominant one by mid-February.

In the second week of January, 7% of all positive tests analysed for their genetic material had the mutated variant, the State Serum Institute said in a report published on Friday.

That is up from 4.1% in the first week and just 2.4% in the last week of December. A total of 464 people have been infected with the new variant since mid-November.

Denmark’s total confirmed infections stand at 193,038, and 1,941 people have died.

The country has sharply increased its sequencing capacity and aims to analyse the genetic virus material in all positive tests. More than 33% of positive tests in the second week of this year have been sequenced so far.

Also on Friday, Denmark halted all incoming flights from the United Arab Emirates due to potentially unreliable coronavirus tests in Dubai.

Out of all the people infected with the new variant, three had been travelling to the United Arab Estimates, the SSI said on Friday, but added it was unclear whether the infections occurred there.

Regular infection numbers are dropping in Denmark, however. 773 new infections were registered in the last 24 hours, translating into a positive percentage of 0.67, a figure not seen since September.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Angus MacSwan

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