Denmark eases school Covid-19 rules: close contacts can stay in class

School and daycare children will no longer be immediately sent home if they have come into close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19.

Denmark eases school Covid-19 rules: close contacts can stay in class
File photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Children will instead be tested for the coronavirus at their schools or nurseries if they are found to have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19. 

The new guidelines were confirmed by the Danish Health Authority on Monday.

“From now on it will only be the infected (children) who will have to go into self-isolation. Children who are close contacts are recommended testing so they can stay at their school or daycare,” the authority wrote. 

That replaces the existing practice of sending close contacts home from schools. 

Unvaccinated children who have not previously recovered from the virus are now asked to take a coronavirus test of any kind as soon as possible and two additional PCR tests, on the fourth and seventh days after the suspected contact.

Children may continue to attend school while awaiting test results, but will be sent home if they develop symptoms or a test result returns positive.

Tests are not recommended for children under the age of three unless they develop symptoms of Covid-19.

“The new guidelines will primarily mean that we will avoid so many children being sent home since they will from now on be able to take a rapid test at school in immediate response to a classmate being infected,” education minister Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil said.

“There is no doubt that sending children home when a single pupil is infected has consequences for schooling and it is very disruptive for families,” she added.

The new guidelines will come into effect “as soon as possible”, the minister said.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 vaccination to be offered at Danish supermarkets

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Denmark’s infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

Travellers from China should not need a negative Covid-19 test when arriving in Denmark, the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute recommended on Saturday, in an assessment sent to the Ministry of Health.

Denmark's infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

In the assessment by the State Serum Institute (SSI), it was noted that there aren’t expected to be a large number of arrivals coming directly from China and that any tests would have a marginal affect on Danish epidemic control.

However SSI wrote that it was still important to keep an eye on new variants of Covid-19 and suggested that a sample of voluntary-based PCR tests could be introduced for travellers from China.

The assessment was requested by Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde, following a recommendation on Wednesday by European Union experts to tighten travel rules.

Infection rates in China are high after it abolished its ‘zero Covid’ policy in late 2022, although no precise numbers are available.

Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the UK, had already introduced testing requirements, while Sweden on Thursday announced a similar step, as did Germany, with an added announcement on Saturday to discourage non-essential travel from Germany to China.

The United States, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan have also put testing rules in place.

Health minister Sophie Løhde also asked SSI to assess testing waste water from aircraft landed from China. SSI responded that there is limited experience in this.

SSI currently analyses samples from shared toilet tanks at four airports twice a week – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Billund. The method would have to be changed in order to detect new Covid-19 variants, which would take up to four weeks to implement, according to the assessment.

Løhde has informed the parliamentary parties about the assessment and has asked the Epidemic Commission for an advisory assessment, she said in a press release. Once this is done, the recommendations will be discussed.