Denmark takes swift action against coronavirus: ‘You can’t do enough to contain this epidemic’

The World
A police officer checks a driver at the Danish border in Rodby, Denmark, March 14, 2020.

Monday was the first official day of closed schools in Denmark. But from Thursday last week, most families decided to keep their children at home. Most public servants have been sent home and much of the private sector is also shut down. 

The country’s borders were closed on Saturday. 

Related: World leaders scramble to slow the spread of coronavirus 

This is all to keep the spread of COVID-19 at a pace that will hopefully ensure the country’s hospitals won’t be overloaded with patients — something that has already happened in Italy, where the novel coronavirus has overwhelmed the healthcare sector.  

Dr. Thomas Benfield is one of the top epidemiologists leading Demark’s fight against the novel coronavirus. He says the shutdown is the right thing to do. 

“I’m pretty sure it’s the right move. We have seen more local transmissions than we had just a few days ago. The experience from China and Italy … You can’t do enough to contain this epidemic. We’re definitely hoping that through all the measures we’re taking we won’t suffer the crash they have in Italy,” he said. 

Related: Global coronavirus cases surpass those in China

More than 1,000 people in Denmark have tested positive for the virus and four have died. 

Denmark’s government has also told private companies struggling with these drastic measures to curb the spread of coronavirus that it will cover 75% of employees’ salaries, if they promised not to cut staff, up to a maximum of $3,418 per month, while the companies pay the remaining 25%.

The offer is one of several economic aid packages by the government to help companies and employees cushion the effect of tough measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

But there is still no apparent solution for Denmarks almost 200,000 sole traders and small businesses with very few employees. 

Jakob Tage Ramlyng was the first person in Denmark to contract the virus. The TV journalist came home from a ski trip in Italy and went back to work — then he tested positive. 

“That was kind of a shock,” Ramlyng said. He and many of his colleagues were sent into quarantine at home. Ramlyng has recovered and recently been cleared of the virus. 

Most people who have gone into quarantine have not tested positive, but have done so to slow the spread. One of them is Kasper Juul, who spent two weeks in a sealed-off part of his house. He said he is very happy with how the response to the pandemic is being handled by the authorities — even after spending two weeks on lockdown on his own without any symptoms. 

“I don’t have a problem with it at all. It’s not about me. If I had the virus, I could infect other people. And that could spread,” Juul said. 

The government is counting on most Danes to react in the same way Juul has to keep the virus under control. 

To listen to the full story, click the audio player above. Reuters contributed to this report.

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