Denmark lifts visiting restrictions on elderly care homes

Denmark lifts visiting restrictions on elderly care homes
A resident at an elderly care home in Copenhagen. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark will from this Thursday allow friends and relatives of people in elderly care homes and hospitals to visit as often as they like, in a move some experts have warned is a step too far.
Visitors will be able to meet residents and patients both outside their homes and in their rooms and common spaces. 
 
“With our offensive test strategy, intensive infection detection and the opportunity to intervene in the event of an infection, we have the necessary tools to ensure that residents and patients in Denmark can now receive visits to an even greater extent,” Denmark's health minister, Magnus Heunicke, said in a press release
 
If a care home or hospital sees an outbreak, or is believed to be at risk of an outbreak, the Danish Patient Safety Authority will quickly respond by restricting visits again. 
 
But Allan Randrup Thomsen, professor of virology at the University of Copenhagen — who has been largely supportive of the health ministry's decisions — said he believed that the regime around elderly care was now too relaxed. 
 
“I think it's a step too far,” he told Danish state broadcaster DR
 
“It is time that we got more opportunity to visit elderly people sitting in the care homes. That's absolutely good,” he said.  “But on the other hand, we have to recognise that this is our most vulnerable group, and once infection enters a care home, it tends to spread rapidly.” 
 
 
He said that he believed it would have been better to set up visiting areas where friends and family can meet those in care homes, which could be thoroughly disinfected after visits. 
 
But Nils Peter Nissen, director of the Alzheimer's Association, welcomed the move, which his association has been calling for for some time. 
 
“The restrictions on visits have had totally catastrophic consequences for the elderly,” he said. “They have been weakened both physically and mentally.” 

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