COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish schools on Monday resumed teaching younger children — from pre-school to the fourth grade — as Denmark has seen a steady reduction in COVID-19 infection numbers in recent weeks. However, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said it was still too early to say when the oldest students can return.
“Although the numbers in Denmark look good,” a more contagious variant first identified in the U.K. “is simmering just below the surface and will soon be the dominant one,” said Frederiksen as she visited a school in Lejre, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Copenhagen.
“We can take the older students back to school when we have complete epidemic control,” she said. ”It is too early to say anything about it now.”
Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the variant could account for 80% of new cases in Denmark by early March.
At schools, children should avoid contacts with others, staff will undergo regular COVID-19 tests and parents are required to wear face masks on school sites. Hygiene measures also are being enforced.
However, heavy snowfall prevented the resumption of schools on the Danish Baltic Sea island of Bornholm Monday.
Since Jan. 27, 2020, Denmark has had 201,621 cases and 2,216 deaths.
In December, the government said school students from the 5th grade and up would switch to distance learning. At the same time, Denmark extended the restrictions that close all shops except food stores and pharmacies as well as banning public gatherings of more than five people.
Cafes and restaurants also remain closed but can still sell takeout food. Gyms, public libraries, beauty parlors and hairdressers are shut until Feb. 28.
The advice to avoid nonessential travel — including business trips — outside of Denmark also was extended to the end of February.
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