Denmark calls on doctors to save on face masks as supplies run short

Denmark calls on doctors to save on face masks as supplies run short
Face masks are running short across Europe. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix
The Danish Medicines Agency on Sunday warned that the country's hospitals were running short of essential protective equipment, such as hand sanitiser, face masks, and protective visors.
Thomas Senderovitz, the agency's Director General, called on doctors and nurses in the country to use soap and water instead of hand sanitiser, whenever possible, and to prioritise the use of face masks and visors for the most crucial cases.
 
“We need to conserve our protective equipment as much as we can at all without compromising safety,” he said in a press release on Sunday. 
 
“Otherwise, we risk undermining all the efforts doctors, nurses and others are making on the front line. It is critically important that we do everything we can to prevent it from happening,” he said. 
 
Joachim Hoffmann-Petersen, Chairman of the Union of Emergency Care Doctors, said that the shortage risked seriously hampering the fight against coronavirus. 
 
“If too many of us get sick, then we won't be able to handle the patients in the hospitals,” he told Danish state broadcaster DR. 
 
He pointed out that in Hong Kong, where there was sufficient protective equipment, not one of the 4,00 healthcare workers working with corona patients had been infected, whereas in Italy, 17 doctors had died, and in Spain, one in four was infected. 
 
Hoffmann-Petersen said he worried that if as many health professionals as in Spain got infected, their own infections could start worsening the problem they are trying to treat. 
 
“We may end up accelerating the epidemic, so that we start forming our own chains of infection,” he said. “Working in the health sector is not much fun, if you know that you can infect family and friends.” 
 
Senderovitz said in the press release that his agency was taking the issue “very seriously” and working “non-stop all week to procure protective equipment for the Danish healthcare system”. 
 

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