Denmark opens up schools for young children

Denmark opens up schools for young children
Prime Minister welcomed children on their return to school in Valby on Wednesday. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: Denmark became the first country in Europe to relax coronavirus restrictions on education. The country allows children up to the age of 11 are returning to nurseries and schools.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen welcomed children as they went back to school in the capital Copenhagen.

Denmark imposed lockdown on schools on 12 March, became among the first countries in Europe to do that.

Infection rates in the country have been low but critics warn the strategy is risky.

BUPL, the Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators, said: “We’re all a bit nervous and we’ll have to ensure that we stick to hygiene rules.”

“We have a lot of washing hands during the day. We don’t have masks and we have to keep a good distance from each other so that’s a very difficult task.”

On Wednesday, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen set out a roadmap for a gradual lifting of restrictions across the 27-state bloc. Denmark’s move comes after that. Though, the European Commission made clear it was not a signal to act immediately.

She set out key conditions involving a major decline in the spread of Covid-19, capacity in the health system, surveillance and monitoring.

Mrs von der Leyen added that a donors’ conference will take place online for governments and organisations to pledge money in search of a vaccine.

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss easing restrictions with the country’s 16 state premiers. Early reports say that they are expected to agree to a limited reopening of shops from next Monday and a relaxation of rules on movement from 3 May.

Spain reported another 523 deaths on Wednesday and a 3% increase in infections but officials said the rise in new cases may have been due to a delay in reporting because of the Easter break.

What has Denmark done?

Denmark has so far reported 6,681 positive cases with 299 deaths, although many more are thought to be infected.

The country has been widely praised for its swift action in restricting movement before Covid-19 infections were able to spread across the population – leading it to be compared to South Korea, another successful country with the fight against the pandemic.

The head of Denmark’s SSI infectious diseases institute said the country had managed to reduce the number of other people that one positive case infects from 2.6 people before the 12 March lockdown, to 0.6.

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