Covid-19: Denmark plans twice-weekly testing as path out of lockdown

Covid-19: Denmark plans twice-weekly testing as path out of lockdown
Health minister Magnus Heunicke speaks to press on Wednesday. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix
Large numbers of people in Denmark could be tested for Covid-19 twice weekly as part of a new government plan to control the virus.

The government announced on Wednesday a new agreement with the national organisation for local authorities, Local Government Denmark (KL) along with the umbrella agency for regional health authorities, Danske Regioner.

That agreement will pave the way for twice-weekly testing in sections of society to enable Denmark to gradually ease restrictions, health minister Magnus Heunicke told media.

“This is a societal contract in which we demand the sector and parts of society that can reopen to test twice a week,” Heunicke said.

“Either a rapid test or a PCR test, so we can place it within the models we calculate on,” he added.

Prior to the announcement, a number of political parties have pushed for restrictions to be eased once the current lockdown expires on February 28th.

Heunicke said the government was awaiting projections from experts before putting forward a schedule for reopening.

Any schedule for easing restrictions will comprise an increased number of Covid-19 test centres, justice minister Nick Hækkerup said at the briefing.

“If we said that all elementary school classes and youth education institutes open, you would have to be at 160,000 tests per day. That is a huge, huge task. I don’t think the calculations show that we can open on March 1st,” Hækkerup said.

“We want to build a larger network of permanent test locations in the country. We have 55 rapid testing locations. We envisage that we will need several hundred spread across the country,” he added.

Children in the younger grades returned to school earlier this month. The impact of that on infection rates is so far encouraging, according to Heunicke.

“Our hope is that we can have a further reopening of society.

“(Junior school classes returning) has gone reasonably safely and securely. There will hopefully be some scope but we will know more as soon as we have projections,” he said with regard to allowing older students to return.

Education minister Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil said that older school students could contribute to reopening by participating in broad testing.

“If we are to use the super-resource which is continual testing, it will require young people allowing themselves to be tested and for schools to contribute to this large logistical task,” Rosenkrantz-Theil said.

“Continual tests can be the key that opens the school gates. That is why it’s crucial that we produce a proper strategy,” she said.

READ ALSO: Denmark reduces number of school exams due to Covid-19


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