Denmark to introduce Covid-19 self-testing for care sector staff

Staff in the elderly care sector in Denmark will be offered rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 at work which they will be able to self-administer, the government said on Wednesday.

Denmark is to increase testing for Covid-19 at care homes by enabling staff to self-test.
Denmark is to increase testing for Covid-19 at care homes by enabling staff to self-test. Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

People working in elderly care and at care homes will be able to take the tests, which provide an answer in around 15 minutes, when they arrive at work, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Senior citizens said in a statement.

The ministry agreed the provision with municipal and regional health authorities, it said.

Self-administered Covid-19 tests are uncommon in Denmark, unlike in other countries like the United Kingdom, for example, where use of rapid flow tests at private homes is widespread.

Denmark has largely conducted all its Covid-19 testing at permanent or mobile designated centres or at hospitals.

Self-testing has previously been used in schools and educational institutions, but under the supervision of testing staff.

Care sector workers in the country are already asked to take a test for the virus twice weekly, regardless of vaccination status.

But the sector has asked for more frequent testing of its staff, said Jacob Bundsgaard, head of Kommunernes Landsforening (KL), the national organisation for municipalities.

“We are therefore pleased that there’s now an agreement for temporary staff and ad hoc workers to test themselves before their shifts begin. That will help keep the virus away from the elderly,” Bundsgaard said.

Self-testing facilities for care staff will be available by November 11th, according to the agreement.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Expert group says Denmark could reach 2020 peak infection numbers

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”