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Numbers game: Denmark caps public gatherings as infections rise in Europe

The limit on public gatherings has been lowered to 50 people from 100 in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen and in Odense, the third largest city, after a recent spike in the number of COVID-19 infections.

The limit was raised from 50 people to 100 people in July and the expectation was that the limit would be raised to 200 in August, but a rise in the daily case rate forced ministers to abandon those plans.

Now the limit has gone back down to 50 after 230 new cases were recorded over the weekend, ‘the most worrying situation since the Spring’, according to health minister Magnus Heunicke.

The cap does not apply to meetings and conferences, which are still allowed to gather 500 people.

Denmark was one of the first countries in Europe to lock down in early March.

The country has reported 18,113 cases and 628 deaths. Most of the new cases were recorded in private homes and among young people.

European leaders are grappling with a surge in infections of COVID-19, mainly in younger people, following the easing of lock down restrictions over summer, although hospitalisations and deaths remain low compared to their peak in March and April.

The UK has seen infection rates creep back up in the last few months, with the daily rate now close to the 3,000 mark. As a consequence the October 1 restart date for business events is set to be ‘reviewed’.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced that social gatherings with more than six people will be made illegal and punishable by dispersal, fines and arrest, in a bid to reduce the rate of infection.

Johnson added that the October restart for conferences would not necessarily be scrapped completely and said that the culture secretary would provide more details “shortly”.

England’s chief medical officer is the latest scientist to warn about the rise in coronavirus cases in the UK. Prof. Chris Whitty Tweeted: “We have through the extraordinary efforts of the whole population got Covid rates right down. They are now rising again especially in those aged 17 to 29. If we stop social distancing Covid comes back. We all need to protect others.”

Elsewhere the Netherlands has seen its infections going up again. A further 5,427 infections were confirmed in the last week, up from 3,597 in the previous week, Dutch health authorities said.