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COVID-19 RULES

Denmark’s Covid-19 rules for close contacts and ‘other’ contacts

Denmark is set to lift domestic Covid-19 restrictions next week, but guidelines remain in place for people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Contacts to confirmed Covid-19 cases in Denmark are no longer required to isolate unless they develop symptoms, but must take a Covid-19 test.
Contacts to confirmed Covid-19 cases in Denmark are no longer required to isolate unless they develop symptoms, but must take a Covid-19 test. Photo: Keld Navntoft/Ritzau Scanpix

The government this week said it would lift Covid-19 restrictions on February 1st despite record infections, citing its high vaccination rate and lower critical hospital cases caused by the milder Omicron variant.

The change will lead to the de facto lifting of all domestic restrictions, including the use of a vaccine pass, mask-wearing and early closings for bars and restaurants.

Over 50,000 new cases of Covid-19 were registered by Denmark’s health authorities on Thursday, the first time during the pandemic the daily figure has exceeded the round number, while the number of ICU patients with the virus continues to decrease.

According to updated guidelines issued this week by the Danish Health Authority, close contacts (people who live with or have spent a night under the same roof as someone who has tested positive for Covid-19) are no longer required to self-isolate, but must take a rapid antigen test or PCR test three days after the close contact tested positive.

The authority provides different guidelines depending on whether you are a “close” or “normal” (øvrig in Danish) contact of a person who has tested positive for Covid-19.

READ ALSO: What are Denmark’s new rules for isolation after testing positive for Covid-19?

Close contact

A close contact is someone who lives with, is a partner (but does not necessarily live with), a roommate or overnight guest or host of someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

The contact must have taken place within 48 hours of the onset of the infected person’s symptoms (or positive test if they are asymptomatic) until they can leave their self-isolation.

Isolation rules for close contacts apply to both children and adults.

Close contacts are not required to self-isolate but must take a rapid antigen test or PCR test three days after the suspected exposure. If symptoms emerge they must isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test, if one is not already booked.

Testing is not required for close contacts who themselves have tested positive for Covid-19 within the last 12 weeks.

People who are unable to socially distance from others in their home who have Covid-19 (such as small children) are likewise no longer required to self-isolate, but are asked to keep other measures in mind such as hand hygiene and social distancing when out. They must take a Covid test on day as with other situations of close contact.

Should you test positive for Covid-19, you must follow the rules for isolation following a positive test.

‘Other’ contact

An other (øvrig) contact is someone who you meet daily or regularly, but do not live with. This can include colleagues who you sit next to, someone you ate a meal with, guests at your house, someone you were in a meeting or class with and sat next to, classmates or playmates at childcare groups, or participants in an event to which several infections are traced.

The contact must have taken place within 48 hours of the onset of the infected person’s symptoms (or positive test if they are asymptomatic) until they can leave their self-isolation.

Notification of being an ‘other’ contact can come via the Smittestop contact tracing app or via being informed by the person in question or leadership at businesses, organisations or schools.

‘Other’ contacts are not required to self-isolate but must take a rapid antigen test or home test three days after the suspected exposure. If symptoms appear, they must isolate and arrange a PCR test immediately.

Testing is not required for close contacts who themselves have tested positive for Covid-19 within the last 12 weeks unless they develop symptoms, in which case they must isolate and arrange a PCR test immediately.

Both close contacts and other contacts should, when booking a PCR test, use a reference number from the person considered their contact. The number can be found via the positive test result notification on the sundhed.dk platform.

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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