The Week That Was, November 23rd – November 29th 2020:

Posted on 29. Nov, 2020 in: TWTW

Coronavirus/ What happened last week:

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said older people,  essential workers, and the chronically ill will be the first in line to get a vaccination against corona, possibly as early as January - Denmark has secured the rights to nearly 15 million vaccines.

The rate of infection in the greater Copenhagen region has reached a ’critically high’ level - local municipalities to the west of the capital warned they could be forced to close down high schools and colleges if the trend continues.

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke was summoned to a parliamentary consultation following allegations that Kåre Mølbak, head of the National Serum Institute (SSI), is under ‘political control 'and the government has ’muzzled’ top virus researchers.

Despite the past few weeks’ rise in corona cases the so-called ‘R’ rate, which reflects the average number of infections one person with the virus causes, has fallen to 1 – which means 10 people carrying the virus infect 10 others. Despite Health Minister Magnus Heunicke’s claim that the epidemic is ‘under control’, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) projected a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations in Denmark as Christmas approaches, with the current rate of new infections potentially doubling before the end of December.

The World Health Organsiation criticised Denmark’s corona tracing policy, which according to Professor Dale Fisher, Chair of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) steering committee, ‘doesn’t work’.

The Ministry of Health extended its ban on group gatherings, scheduled to expire this week, to December 13th.

A Danish study was seized on by right-wing, pro-Trump media in the USA as confirmation that that facemasks don’t provide protection against the coronavirus.

Politics/Economy:

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was in tears after visiting a mink farmer and his son who lost their  livelihood following the government's order to cull all 17 million mink - opposition leaders accused the prime minister of ’crocodile tears’ and an 'over emotional performance’.

For the first time the PM offered an unreserved apology for the minkgate scandal but continued to maintain that the government never issued an illegal order.

The Danish People’s Party (DPP) posted a campaign video on social media portraying Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen behind three, prison-like bars bearing the slogans ‘breach of promise’ breaking the law’ and ‘violating the constitution’.

Ahead of its annual convention the DPP  launched a 14-point ‘anti-Islamification’ manifesto under the theme, 'Denmark needs to be Danish – also in a hundred years’, including the demand for Muslims to marry a Dane before they can apply for citizenship.

Earlier in the week the DPP proposed that failed asylum seekers on ‘tolerated residency’ should be sent to a remote part of Greenland where they can’t cause trouble.

After suffering a backlash for urging protesters at an anti-government demonstration to ‘drain the swamp’, deputy Liberal leader Inger Støjberg denied she was echoing President Trump’s fiery campaign language but admitted to being influenced by another ex-president – Ronald Reagan.

The government dismissed opposition calls for widespread tax cuts in next year’s budget to boost employment, post-corona.

Foreign Affairs/EU:

Helle Thorning-Schmidt emerged as the front-runner to lead the Conference on the Future of Europe - according to EU officials, France and Germany have “agreed” on the ex-Danish prime minister.

The Climate & Energy Ministry signed wide-reaching green energy partnership deals with China, Vietnam, Mexico and South Africa, four countries that jointly represent 30% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Denmark formally assumed command of a training mission for Iraqi armed forces, taking over from Canada.

Rasmus Paludan, leader of the anti-Muslim ‘Stram Kurs’ (Hard Line) party, claimed the French authorities violated EU law by deporting him earlier this month.

30-year-old Ahmed Samsam, a Danish citizen given an eight-year prison sentence in Spain for terrorist activities, is being allowed to return to Denmark - in 2018 he was found guilty in Spain of taking a number of trips to Syria on behalf of the Islamic State but later claimed he was working for Danish Intelligence (PET) or Danish Military Intelligence (FE).

Social Affairs:

85-year-old illustrator Kurt Westergaard, who drew the original caricature of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban that sparked off anti-Denmark riots throughout the Middle East fifteen years ago, has received numerous death threats from Islamists after a French school teacher was brutally murdered by a Muslim fanatic in Paris last month.

Thousands of bloated dead mink rose to the surface at a mass burial site at a military training field.

Two former prime ministers – Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Helle Thorning-Schmidt - are fronting a national anti-smoking campaign aimed at youngsters, even though the ex-Liberal leader is an habitual smoker himself.

A former top-ranking National Police (Rigspolitiet) officer was charged with bribery for allegedly receiving around DKK800,000, a couple of mink coats, and payment for various cosmetic operations from a consultancy company run by her close friend, which in return was given multi-million orders.

Copenhagen came in at a lowly 46th overall in the Expat City Ranking 2020, a global survey of more than 15,000 expats representing 173 nationalities.

Business:

Retail sales grew by 8.2% month on month in October, the first rise in four months.

Denmark’s biggest bank, Danske, laid off a further 257 employees - 155 in Denmark, 26 in Norway, 35 in Sweden and 41 in Finland - as part of its 2023 plan to reduce costs. The bank also defended negative interest rates -  chief monetary policy adviser, Morten Spange, said in an interview that cutting rates below zero is an effective way to support lending and the policy works better than is widely appreciated

Copenhagen Airport announced plans to reduce its capacity by 40% for the next couple of years - in 2019 the airport welcomed over 83,000 passengers each day during the winter months but over the last few weeks the numbers have fallen to the low thousands.

And That Was the Week That Was, November 23rd – November 29th 2020: To read all the above articles in full see: http://seven59.dk/archive (subscription required).

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