All Denmark’s rapid test sites to close by Oct 9th

The Danish Critical Supply Agency has announced that many PCR and rapid test sites across the country will be shuttered during the month of September. All rapid test sites will close by Oct. 9th.

All Denmark's rapid test sites to close by Oct 9th
Many Covid-19 testing centers will be closed in September 2021. In this photo, people queue outside an emergency test center in Nørresundby, October 2020. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix.

According to a press release, Denmark’s rapid test capacity will be halved from 200,000 to 100,000 tests per day by Sept. 13th. Starting Sept. 1st, the PCR capacity will be reduced from 170,000 to 100,000 tests per day. This comes in step with the loosening of the last Covid-19 restrictions in Denmark and a full return, it is hoped, to normal life. 

“We are monitoring the situation in close cooperation with the regions and we will be able to scale up quickly to test more people if needed,” DCSA director Lisbet Zilmer-Johns said in the press release.

READ MORE: What does the ‘end of Covid-19 restrictions in Denmark’ actually mean? 

The agency acknowledged that many people will have to travel farther for tests, but emphasized that each municipality will still have both rapid and PCR tests through the end of September. During September, they’ll pilot a programme for select existing PCR centres to offer occasional rapid tests “for emergencies,” the release said. 

Denmark’s testing capacity was last scaled back in June, when a total of 400,000 PCR and rapid tests per day was reduced to 300,000. will maintain an up-to-date map with currently available test centres, their hours, and wait times. 

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What is Denmark’s Covid-19 testing strategy for the winter?

Danish health authorities on Wednesday presented the country’s plan for testing for Covid-19 during the next autumn and winter, when a new wave of the coronavirus is expected.

What is Denmark’s Covid-19 testing strategy for the winter?

The testing strategy for the latter months of 2022 will rely more on PCR testing than rapid antigen or “quick test” centres, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said at a briefing on Wednesday.

At the briefing, Denmark’s strategy for responding to an expected resurgence of the coronavirus during the colder months was presented.

READ ALSO: Denmark to offer all over-50s autumn Covid-19 vaccine

In 2020 and 2021, Denmark administered huge quantities of Covid-19 tests to its residents through a combination of municipal PCR test centres and rapid antigen testing at separate centres, which were run by private companies awarded contacts by the state.

The rapid test centres were eventually phased out in favour of home antigen tests.

Since March this year, health authorities have advised that Covid-19 testing is only recommended if there is a “special medical reason” for doing so.

This winter will see capacity at PCR test centres upscaled in response to rising case numbers, with rapid test centres not expected to be used, Heunicke said on Wednesday.

“We be able to quickly upscale to 200,000 daily PCR tests if this becomes necessary,” Heunicke said.

Testing will remain an important part of the national Covid-19 strategy because it will speed up treatment for vulnerable and elderly people who contract Covid-19, the minister said.

Denmark will also be able to genome sequence 4,000 Covid-19 tests weekly, which will enable new variants or subvariants of the coronavirus to be detected.

A new subvariant of the Omicron variant, BA. 5, is currently spreading in Denmark and recently became the dominant form. It currently comprises 59 percent of positive tests, according to Heunicke.

READ ALSO: Omicron subvariant now dominant in Denmark

Current infection numbers remain at a relatively low level, the health minister stressed at Wednesday’s briefing.

Health authorities envisage three possible scenarios for future waves of Covid-19, he said.

In the first of these, a new subvariant of the Omicron variant spreads but is not expected to have a greater effect on the health services than the variant did last winter.

The early months of 2022 saw Covid-related ICU admissions remain limited and social restrictions were lifted despite high case numbers with the transmissible Omicron variant.

In a second scenario, a new variant comparable to the Delta variant, which caused more severe illness, emerges. In that scenario, protection of elderly and vulnerable people would be more important, Heunicke said.

In the third scenario, a new variant that escapes community immunity breaks out.

Which of the three scenarios will become reality in Denmark in coming months is uncertain, Heunicke said.

The three situations are very different but all considered by the government strategy which aims to respond “quickly and effectively” with the objective of avoiding lockdowns and restrictions, he said.

READ ALSO: Danish PM expects coming winter without Covid-19 lockdowns