Danish regions switch Covid-19 rapid test provider after problems

Problems with provider SOS international have resulted in health authorities cancelling the company’s contract to operate rapid Covid-19 tests.

Danish regions switch Covid-19 rapid test provider after problems
Illustration photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Denmark’s regional health authorities pay private providers to operate rapid Covid-19 testing, which is offered to the public for free and separately from the regular PCR testing available through the health service.

All of the healthcare regions which had contracted rapid testing to SOS International announced on Sunday that they had cancelled contracts with the company, news wire Ritzau reported.

Another company, Falck, took over rapid testing on Monday. Falck previously operated rapid testing in December and January.

The decision means SOS International will no longer operate testing in Greater Copenhagen, Zealand, Central Jutland or North Jutland. The company will continue to carry out the tests using its staff in Greater Copenhagen during the 30-day notice period.

Another company, Medicals Nordic A/S, was dropped as a subcontractor with immediate effect.

“The regions (health authorities) are very disappointed that SOS International is failing on its obligations,” Central Jutland Region director Anders Kjærulff said in an email reported by Ritzau.

The announcement came after Danish newspapers Politiken and BT reported substandard safety and hygiene conditions at testing centres operated by Medicals Nordic.

Politiken reported single-use gloves not being changed after swabbing and a lack of disinfection of surfaces between tests, while BT wrote that the company had used messaging app Whatsapp to send sensitive patient information.

Southern Denmark, the only region not to have used SOS International, will continue with current provider Carelink.

READ ALSO: Denmark introduces rapid Covid-19 tests at German borders

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”