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Coronavirus Press Meeting Update: Remember distancing and hand hygiene

Danish health authorities say that the virus is behaving as expected as the epidemic is still here but is under control.

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By Bente D.  Knudsen

It felt like going back in time, to the days in March and April with the many frequent press meetings at the beginning of the epidemic and the speak was equally serious at the press meeting today;

” Virus is still here; we must remember all the good things we did before with maintaining at least a meters distance to other people, remember frequent hand washing ,or the use of a disinfectant, in order to maintain the epidemic under control”.

This was the main message which the serious faces wanted to convey as well as informing about the status of the epidemic in Denmark and the current regional outbreaks.

At the same time, the Danish health authorities stressed that the current situation is much different to the one in March.

At present there is a large testing capacity which enables a speedy reaction of finding those infected and isolating them to prevent further spread.

Also, the medical sector is much better equipped with protective gear but also with knowledge about the virus and how its infection affects those taken seriously ill. There are also a couple of medications which the doctors can use, all items which did not exist in March when coronavirus hit Denmark.

The Danish authorities present at the meeting stressed that the situation is not the same even if there are now a couple of serious outbreaks which must be contained to prevent further spread.

At the same time, the virus is behaving as expected as the epidemic is still here, it did not go away during the summer holiday, instead, with the opening of society, it will pop up and result in local outbreaks.


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Therefore all the authorities stressed the importance of reminding the citizens living in Denmark to remember all the good things they did to get the first wave of the epidemic under control: maintain distance of 1 meter, remember hand hygiene with frequent handwashing or the use of a disinfectant.

And not least: get tested if you think you could be infected with COVID-19 even if you are not presenting any symptoms and if you present any symptoms of illness,  stay at home and contact your doctor (GP) so you can get tested.

If you are ill with any kinds of respiratory illness, flue or cold stay at home until you are no longer ill.

They then went on to inform about the current outbreaks which are cause for concern and which have resulted in the measures taken this weekend in Aarhus, where facemasks have become mandatory to use in public transport – the measure is at present in place until the 1 September.

The outbreak in Aarhus has spread to Silkeborg, they said to a surprised media, where a small cluster of spread leads back to Aarhus.

In Aarhus, a large outbreak has taken place within the Somali community (in Danish you will find it referred to as a cluster of non-ethnic Danes) and according to the Danish authorities,the outbreak in Silkeborg is also related to a community of non-ethnic Danes, which can be traced back to the one in Aarhus.  They did not want to specify further at the meeting.

It does mean that the use of facemasks in public transport will also encompass all public transport in Silkeborg as well as shopping centres and malls in Silkeborg. The health authorities and the local municipality are working closely with the community to halt spread and prevent further spread in Silkeborg.

The outbreak in Ringsted is being brought under control as it was limited to the workers at the Danish Crown Slaughterhouse – many of them Polish workers.

The slaughterhouse has closed for a week to further limit spread and those infeced have been placed in isolation as well as their contacts. The authorities are confident that the outbreak in Ringsted is now under control.


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“At present each new regional outbreak we have seen is different”, Annette Petri from Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed said at the press meeting.

Therefore we use different measures to contain spread as seen with what is done in Aarhus, where the spread is at present more spread out, compared to Silkeborg and Ringsted, which is why we are not implementing any new national measure at present.

However, the outbreaks are a reminder to us all that now we need to remember to do the things we did that worked so well: distancing and hand hygiene.”

Questioned why the new national recommendation to use a facemask on public transport during rush hour,or when distancing cannot be maintained on the train or in the bus, was a recommendation and not a mandatory measure, the Danish health minister, Magnus Heunicke, said that he believed that it was possible for people to use their common sense and to understand that they could protect fellow passengers by using a facemask when distancing was not possible.

Whether it would become mandatory to use on public transport is a question of how well the recommendation works and what happens with spread during the next weeks / months he said.

“Facemasks are another tool in our toolbox, which can be used when social distancing cannot be maintained in indoor often confined spaces such as public transport, but they can never stand alone. They must be seen as a supplement to the other measures (Editors note: such as hand hygiene and maintaining distance where possible).”

New is that the Danish health authorities accept that facemasks made of fabric can be used as they are “good enough” to use together with a high hand hygiene when suffiicient distancing is not possible. Video’s and information on how to produce a facemask from fabric is being worked on and will be made available shortly the authorities said.


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