In this undated photo, customers at the Mikkeller's Warpigs, a craft brewpub in Copenhagen's former Meatpacking District show the opening page of their "Corona pass,” an app on their mobile phone that shows the result of recent antigen tests for COVID-19, as they order drinks. (TOM LITTLE / AFP)
COPENHAGEN / LISBON / OTTAWA – Denmark is preparing to go through the coming winter without any coronavirus restrictions even with an expected rise in infections, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Friday.
The Nordic country expects to be able to avoid lockdown measures due to new improved booster vaccines, greater immunity in the population and being able to better track the spread of the virus through measures such as waste-water testing
The Nordic country expects to be able to avoid lockdown measures due to new improved booster vaccines, greater immunity in the population and being able to better track the spread of the virus through measures such as waste-water testing.
"We are well prepared. The strategy and goal is a completely open society this coming winter," Heunicke told a press briefing.
Denmark will receive 4.5 million doses in September of the COVID-19 booster vaccine updated to target the Omicron variant, with the first deliveries due to arrive next week, he said.
From Sept 15 authorities will begin offering a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to those aged over 50 and vulnerable groups.
While Denmark saw a slight increase in COVID infections over the summer the number of cases now appears to be on the decline, Danish health authorities said.
The European Union's drug regulator on Thursday backed two separate COVID-19 vaccine boosters updated to target the Omicron variant, ahead of an anticipated rise in infections this winter.
Developed by Moderna and the team of Pfizer and BioNTech, the new so-called bivalent shots combat the BA.1 version.
Portugal will start vaccinating people with booster shots against COVID-19 on Wednesday along with the seasonal flu shot ahead of an expected rise in infections after the summer, the head of the health authority DGS said on Friday.
The two boosters to be used are manufactured by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna. They have been upgraded to protect against the new COVID-19 variants and were approved on Thursday by the European Medicines Agency.
The so-called bivalent shots combat the BA.1 version of Omicron.
"In this autumn-winter season people should protect themselves against severe forms of COVID and influenza," DGS chief Graca Freitas told reporters. "The vaccination campaign will start on Sept 7."
The priority will be those over 80 years old and people with underlying health problems, she said.
Portugal has carried out an internationally praised vaccine rollout, and although the nation experienced a surge in cases due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant in the first few months of this year, deaths and hospitalizations were well below levels seen in earlier waves.
A healthcare worker dons a bouffant cap as staff treat patients suffering from coronavirus disease at Humber River Hospital's Intensive Care Unit, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 29, 2021. (COLE BURSTON / AFP)
Canada confirmed 20,843 new COVID-19 cases for the week of Aug 21-27, the Public Health Agency of Canada said on Friday.
According to the weekly update issued by the PHAC, the number of total COVID-19 cases and deaths in Canada reached 4,179,337 and 44,085 respectively. The daily positive rate during the week averaged at 10.8 percent, and daily tests per 100,000 people were 61.
The agency said a detailed report on 4,060,184 cases showed that 191,565 cases, or 4.8 percent, were hospitalized, and of those hospitalized, 15.4 percent were admitted to intensive care units.
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COVID-19 modeling studies published recently showed that without Canadians' collective efforts in achieving high vaccine coverage and adhering to public health measures, the country could have accumulated up to 34 million cases, 2 million hospitalizations and 800,000 deaths as of April 2022, the PHAC said.