COPENHAGEN (REUTERS) - Denmark said on Thursday (Dec 10) it will expand lockdown measures announced earlier this week to more cities, placing almost 80 per cent of the population under the tight restrictions after registering its highest number of new daily infections yet.
"There is widespread infection throughout society and incipient pressure on the hospital system," Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told reporters, adding that a further rise in infections in the coming days is expected.
From Friday, a lockdown initially imposed this week on 38 towns and cities will be expanded to 69 municipalities.
The lockdown, which already includes the capital Copenhagen, has shut bars, restaurants and museums in response to signs of a rapid rise in infections.
Mr Heunicke also said that authorities would increase their testing capacity, already among the highest in the world per inhabitant, by introducing rapid tests to help trace infection chains.
Though less accurate than the slower polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, the quick tests produce results within 10-15 minutes.
Additionally, in order to increase testing capacity further, health authorities would pay privately-held laboratories to analyse tests, Mr Heunicke said.
In the last 24 hours, 3,132 new infections have been registered, a record for Denmark. More than 110,000 tests were performed, also a record. A total of 918 people diagnosed with Covid-19 have died in Denmark, which has a population of 5.8 million.