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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 RULES

Why Danish government is considering more scope for epidemic restrictions

The Danish government must currently receive the backing of parliament before implementing major interventions in response to a public health threat such as the Covid-19 pandemic. But an evaluation by two ministries suggests they favour more flexibility on the area.

Why Danish government is considering more scope for epidemic restrictions

Under current laws, parliament must vote to approve the categorisation of a disease as a ‘critical threat’ to society (samfundskritisk).

Only when a disease or an epidemic has been categorised in this way by parliament can all  of the interventions available to the government under the epidemic law be brought into play.

In other words, the government must face parliamentary checks and controls before implementing restrictions.

Those interventions range from the most invasive, such as lockdowns and assembly limits, to less invasive, but still significant, measures such as face mask mandates and health pass requirements like those seen with the coronapas (Covid-19 health pass) during the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: Denmark decommissions country’s Covid-19 health pass

The Ministry of Health now wants to change the existing structure within the Epidemic Law, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported on Monday.

In an evaluation, the ministry proposes a change to the rules such that requirements for things like face masks and the coronapas can be introduced for diseases that are not only in the ‘critical threat’ category, but also for those rated an almen farlig sygdom, ‘dangerous to public health’.

This would put some of the restrictions in the lower category which is not subject to parliamentary control.

The evaluation was sent by the health and justice ministries to parliament in October but has escaped wider attention until now, Jyllands-Posten writes.

In its evaluation of the epidemic law, the Justice Ministry states that there is a “large jump” between the small pool of restrictions that can be introduced against ‘dangerous to public health diseases’ and the major societal interventions the government – with parliamentary backing – can use once a disease is classed as a ‘critical threat’.

“This jump does not quite seem to correspond with the actual demand for potential restrictions against diseases dangerous to public health, which can spread while not being critical to society,” the ministry writes.

The health ministry said in the evaluation the “consideration” should be made as to whether less invasive measures should continue to pass through parliament, as is the case under the current rules.

The national organisation for municipalities, KL, has told parliament that it backs the thinking of the ministries over the issue but that parliamentary control must be retained.

The Danish Council on Ethics (Det Etiske Råd) told Jyllands-Posten that it was “very sceptical” regarding the recommendation.

“The council therefore points out that a slippery slope could result if the restrictions, interventions and options that can be brought into use with diseases that present a critical threat to society, can also be used with dangerous diseases like normal influenza,” the council said.

The minority government’s allied political parties all stated scepticism towards the proposal, in comments reported by Jyllands-Posten.

In a written comment, the health ministry told the newspaper that Health Minister Magnus Heunicke would discuss committee stage responses with the other partied before deciding on “the need for initiatives”.

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