Objective Early identification of the basic reproduction number (BRN) is imperative to political decision making during an epidemic. In this study, we estimated the BRN 7, 14, 21 and 28 days after societal lockdown of Denmark during the early stage of the COVID-19 epidemic. Method We implemented the SEIR dynamical system for disease spread without vital dynamics. The BRN was modulated using a sigmoid function. Model parameters were estimated on number of admitted patients, number of patients in intensive care and cumulative number of deaths using the simulated annealing Monte Carlo algorithm. Results are presented with 95% prediction intervals (PI). Results We were unable to determine any reliable estimate of the BRN at 7 days following lockdown. The BRN had stabilised at day 14 throughout day 28, with the estimate ranging from 0.95 (95% PI: 0.92-0.98) at day 7 to 0.92 (95% PI: 0.92-0.93) at day 28. We estimated the BRN prior to lockdown to be 3.32 (95% PI: 3.31-3.33). The effect of the lockdown was occurring over a period of a few days centred at March 18th (95% PI: 17th-18th) 2020. Conclusion We believe our model provides a valuable tool for decision makers to reliably estimate the effect of a politically determined lockdown during an epidemic.