Danish government says it will scale down Covid-19 rapid test centres

The capacity for Covid-19 testing in Denmark will be reduced from 500,000 to 200,000 rapid antigen tests per day, with more focus on home testing, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Friday.

A March 2021 file photo from a rapid Covid-19 test centre in Copenhagen. The rapid test centres are to be reduced in capacity in favour of home testing.
A March 2021 file photo from a rapid Covid-19 test centre in Copenhagen. The rapid test centres are to be reduced in capacity in favour of home testing. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

In addition to reducing the number of available tests, the country’s strategy will be “revised in close dialogue with health authorities and external partners,” the ministry said in a statement.

Regional health authorities are responsible for operating PCR test centres in Denmark while rapid antigen tests are offered at privately-run centres contracted to the government.

It is the private test providers whose capacity will be scaled back from 500,000 daily tests to 200,000 daily tests over the next two weeks, with more emphasis to be placed on home testing.

The PCR testing capacity is currently 200,000 tests per day, according to the ministry statement, though official data on Friday showed 268,092 PCR tests had been administered during the last day. PCR tests are not currently available within 24 hours in all locations in Denmark.

Denmark set its latest record for daily Covid-19 infections on Friday, registering over 46,000 new confirmed cases. Test results from the private rapid test centres are not included in this statistic. People who return a positive result from a quick test are advised to then book a PCR test to confirm they have Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Denmark records almost 47,000 new Covid-19 cases

Official data showed 252,522 rapid tests to have been administered in Denmark during the last day on Thursday and 257,386 on Friday.

“Vaccines and easy access to testing have been our Danish super-weapon all the way through the epidemic. We are one of the countries in the world which has tested the most and has come furthest with the third (booster) vaccine dose,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said in the statement.

“This is positively reflected in the number of hospitalisations (with Covid-19) and enables us to now wind down the large test capacity and use more home testing, which is a good alternative,” Heunicke said.

Home testing, not commonplace in Denmark in 2021, is now in use at schools, childcare institutions, in the elderly care sector and in the health and social care sector. Home tests are set to be further distributed by regions and municipalities.

READ ALSO: When are Covid-19 home tests used in Denmark?

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Denmark’s autumn Covid-19 strategy to be presented ‘before summer’

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Monday that the government will soon present a strategy for managing Covid-19 should the virus resurge in Denmark next autumn and winter.

Denmark’s autumn Covid-19 strategy to be presented 'before summer'

Although everyday life in Denmark is now free of any signs of Covid-19 restrictions, a plan will be put in place to manage a potential increase in cases of the virus once colder months return, Frederiksen said during remarks in parliament.

During a speech given as part of the parliament’s closing session before its summer break, Frederiksen noted that the coronavirus still persists in other countries and that Denmark must therefore have its own plan in place for future management of outbreaks.

“The government will therefore, before the summer (holiday), present a strategy for ongoing Covid management. We will discuss it with the other parties in parliament,” she said.

Frederiksen also said that Denmark was among the countries to have coped best with the pandemic.

“We are one of the countries that have had the lowest excess deaths. And one of the countries that has emerged best from the crisis economically. That is thanks to the efforts of each individual citizen in the country,” she said.

A new wave of Covid-19 cases later this year can be expected, according to a Danish medical expert.

“As things look now, we can reasonably hope that the thoroughly vaccinated population will be well protected against serious cases and that we will therefore see few hospitalisations,” Henrik Nielsen, senior medical consultant at Aalborg University’s infectious disease department, told news wire Ritzau.

“But the number of infections could very easily be high in the autumn and winter with a respiratory virus that gives a few days’ sickness. We expected serious cases to be limited in number,” he said.