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명의 시민기자가 개의 기사를 작성하였습니다. 시민기자 전환하기
 
 덴마크 수도 코펜하겐의 최대 관광명소 니하운의 4월6일 풍경. 관광객이 없어 인적이 드물다. (The landscape on April 6 of Nyhaun, the largest tourist attraction in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.  There are no tourists, so people are rare.)
 The landscape on April 6 of Nyhaun, the largest tourist attraction in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. There are no tourists, so people are rare.
ⓒ Lennart Børsting
 
Happy nation with the Corona

Before the coronavirus we had little to worry about in Denmark, where I live with my wife and two daughters: No earthquakes or natural disasters and free education and healthcare for all. Denmark was one of the happiest countries in the world.

But with coronavirus, the dark clouds have been rolling in over our happy country, as they have over the rest of the world.

Denmark was one of the first countries in Europe to go on lockdown, and today, April 6th, Denmark is one of the first countries to present a plan for the first steps in a lockdown exit:

On April 15th the government will reopen primary school, kindergartens and nurseries, but middle schools, high schools and universities as well as shopping malls and restaurants will remain closed until May 10th.

The curve has peaked

Denmark has a population of 5,5 million, and as of April 6th there are 4.647 confirmed corona cases, 187 of whom have died. The number of patients in intensive care units has been decreasing every day for the last 5 days, with 139 ICU patients today and 108 of these patients on ventilators. With a capacity of 925 for corona cases, Denmark has managed to stay well below the capacity of the health system, thus avoiding a break down as seen in countries like Italy, Spain and the United States.

Don't worry

When the news of coronavirus first came to Denmark, many people reacted with fascination rather than fear. "It is a good thing that we are safe here", seemed to be what most people were thinking.

The Danish health authorities told us not to worry. It was highly unlikely the coronavirus would come to Denmark, they said. If by some small chance of bad luck, the virus did come to Denmark, the Danish health system was well prepared. Neither of the assurances turned out to be true.

February 27th the first person in Denmark was tested positive with coronavirus and soon after the number of cases started growing. The government implemented simple measures for containment like voluntary home quarantine and testing people who had been in close contact with Corona patients, but Denmark still had no virus control in the airport and no testing of people arriving from countries with high numbers of corona cases.

One week after the first case, the government banned gatherings of more than 1.000 people. But it was too little and too late.

Containment failed

On March 11th, only two weeks after the first Corona case in Denmark, the before so happy nation was put on lockdown. Schools and public offices were closed, and private companies were asked to try and let their staff work from home.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen declared that the Danish attempts to contain the virus had failed and that Denmark would now change from a containment strategy to a mitigation strategy. The government would no longer track down and test everyone who had been in contact with a corona patient. The number of corona cases was too high, and the task was too big. The virus could no longer be contained.

Instead of attempting to fully stop the pandemic, all efforts would now be focused on slowing down the spread of the virus in order to keep the number of critically ill within the capacity of the hospitals. Everybody's eyes were now on the number of hospital beds in intensive care units and the number of ventilators. Would it be possible to flatten the curve enough, so that the number of Corona patients in need of ventilators did not exceed the capacity?

Mitigation succeeded

In a speech at a press conference March 30th Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced the first good news in a long while: The mitigation strategy in Denmark was working. The exponential growth in cases had been stopped and the curve had been flattened. The number of cases in intensive care was still less than 10% of the capacity. The mitigation strategy was apparently a success, and Denmark had managed to lockdown in time to control the virus and avoid a breakdown of the health system.

The Danish tradition for community
 
 덴마크의 공동체정신을 상징적으로 보여주는 '민주주의 축제의 날' (2019년 6월 5일). 소도시 울러럽(Ollerup)에 모인 남녀노소 시민들을 대상으로 메테 총리가 연설을 하고 있다.(: 'Democracy Day' festival (June 5, 2019) symbolically showing the Danish Community sprit. Prime Minister Mette is speaking to citizens of all ages, both men and women gathered in the small town of Ollerup.)
 "Democracy Day" festival (June 5, 2019) symbolically showing the Danish Community sprit. Prime Minister Mette is speaking to citizens of all ages, both men and women gathered in the small town of Ollerup.
ⓒ Yeonho Oh
 
In her speech on March 30th, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen made a very personal and emotional appeal for everyone to continue the joint effort in the lockdown with strong references to the Danish tradition for community:

"It has become very clear, that we are all deeply dependent on each other. We are a community. We share concerns and hopes. And because of this, we also share a force, that cannot be put on a simple recipe. A force that has proven to be priceless: Our community spirit. We know that we need each other."

 "The best speech from a Prime Minister in modern history", commentators said and approval ratings for the Prime Minister were higher than ever.

Support from opposition

Denmark has a strong tradition for collaboration between government and opposition. During the Corona crisis the collaboration has been even stronger, and the opposition leaders have praised the Prime Minister for her handling of the crisis.

Most mainstream media have joined in and celebrated the joint efforts of government and opposition. Although the government has changed strategy several times during the crisis, most mainstream media have avoided any critical questions. Gradually this seems to be changing, and more and more journalist start to raise critical questions. One of these questions, that remains to be answered is: What is the goal for the government strategy, when it has clearly given up on trying to stop the virus?

When the government changed from the containment strategy to the mitigation strategy, it also gave up on testing all persons with symptoms, and on tracking down contacts to corona cases. It soon became clear that this change of strategy was in part due to a shortage of test equipment, and the failure of health authorities to respond to this shortage in time.

Testing is slow

With limited test-equipment available, the test-efforts are now focused on people with severe symptoms and on testing health workers like doctors, nurses and staff at retirement homes. But despite the government's assurances, many health workers complain, that they cannot get at corona test, when they contact their doctor and explain that they have symptoms or that they have been in contact with corona cases.

My brother works in a retirement home, where 4 residents and 7 staff members are infected with corona. It took more than a week from the first corona case in the retirement home until all staff and residents could be tested. The plus side of the Danish Health Care is that tests and treatments are free, but the downside is clearly that the system is sometimes very slow.

Summer with corona
 
DENMARK PANDEMIC CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 Denmarkapos;s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen during a press briefing on COVID-19 in the State Department in Copenhagen, Denmark, 6 April 2020. Countries around the world are taking increased measures to stem the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes the Covid-19 disease.
▲ DENMARK PANDEMIC CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 Denmarkapos;s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen during a press briefing on COVID-19 in the State Department in Copenhagen, Denmark, 6 April 2020. Countries around the world are taking increased measures to stem the widespread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes the Covid-19 disease.
ⓒ EPA/Philip Davali
 
After more than 3 weeks of lockdown and with the first steps of the lockdown exit in sight, there is a general support for the government and no sense of panic. Food supplies are plenty and many people are enjoying a stroll in the sunny spring weather while making sure to keep a distance.

The warm weather is a challenge for the mitigation strategy, as many people are tempted to go outside, so at the press meeting, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stressed the importance of social distancing: If people fail to keep a social distance during the Easter holidays coming up this week, the government is prepared to cancel the plans for an exit, and continue the lockdown.

The ban against large gatherings has been extended to the end of August, thus cancelling all the numerous music festivals that take place in Denmark every summer, and at the same time showing us all, that corona will be with us for a long while. We must brace ourselves with patience before we can return to the life in the happy country we used to know. 
   
 수느 코베로(Sune Kobberø)
 Sune Kobberø

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