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“Ideally we should be testing 5,000 a day”

The CEO of the Danish Health Board expressed his anxiety that the Danish testing strategy was under pressure due to capacity problems and therefore not testing as advised.

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By Bente D. Knudsen

Søren Brostrøm, the CEO of the Danish Health Board, said to Danish DR’s program, Lægens Bord, that the testing capacity problems in the Danish health sector were creating a situation where the testing strategy was not fulfilled.

This, he mentioned, created a situation where GP’s were forced to prioritise even harder on those who were sick with coronavirus like symptoms and who were in the risk group and had to refrain from testing for instance health personnel with light symptoms.

Status at present is that 15,981 have been tested and of those 1,851 are confirmed infected with COVID-19. There have been 34 deaths, 350 are hospitalised and of them 87 are in intensive care, of those needing intensive care, 78 are in a ventilator.

“We will expect to see more the coming days, we are in week three of the epidemic and we can expect to see these numbers rise. How steeply and where we are on the risk curve is still to early to tell, we will be able to say more about this by the end of next week,” Søren Brostrøm said.

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The focus of the authorities is no longer on finding all those with symptoms and testing them to ascertain if they have the COVID-19 virus.

As the virus has now spread from person to person in the Danish society, the focus is on identifying those at risk and taking the necessary precautions to alleviate the effect of the virus on them.

This means that patients with light symptoms are to stay at home and will not be tested for coronavirus, whereas those with severe symptoms are to call their GP.

The GP will then access their state of illness and their risk of severe effects of the illness depending on their risk profile, and the GP will which further measures are to be taken such as for instance testing them for the coronavirus.

“WHO’s statement concerning testing is being listened to,” Søren Brostrøm from the Danish Health Board said after massive questioning by the Danish media as to why Denmark is not testing enough.

WHO looks at the whole world and speaks with all countries in mind, also those who have not started testing yet and who are looking at the start of the epidemic, much as we did in the beginning, however, we also need to translate the advice from WHO into a Danish context and the context both of the Danish population and the Danish health care system.”

The problem at the moment is not a lack of a strategy for more widespread testing, but a short term shortage in testing capacity which, according to Søren Brostrøm, everyone in the Danish health care system is working very hard at solving.

Once solved the full testing strategy can be implemented, a strategy where up to 5,000 people are tested daily much as they do in Norway, a Scandinavian country Denmark can be compared with.

A full implementation means that for instance those working in the health care sector with light symptoms can be tested.

The strategy for health care personnel is to test them for coronavirus in order to evaluate whether or not they, despite light symptoms that are not the coronavirus, can still fulfill a critical function.

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A  symptomatic person in a high risk group will be tested for COVID-19 so the authorities can determine if further intervention (hospitalisation) might be necessary.

This means that if you are exhibiting coronavirus-like symptoms: fever, coughing, muscle pain, you will NOT be tested for the coronavirus if you are a normal healthy person, or child ( but not if you are an infant), and your general state of health and the symptoms of your illness are mild or moderate.

The authorities will refrain from using resources on people who are not in the risk group and who do not have any serious symptoms (respiratory problems for instance are severe symptoms).

In the group to be tested are also pregnant women due for labour who have light symptoms as well as infants and newborn children with light symptoms.

The testing of infants and very young children is from a precautionary measure as it is important that infants can be examined for any medical condition and therefore the medical care personnel needs to know if the infant or young child could be infected with the coronavirus.

The specific updated guidelines also enable more testing of health care workers and those working in other care facilities.

They can be tested even if they have only mild symptoms, or are simply in quarantine, not so much because more with mild symptoms need testing, but more to reduce the risk of a shortage in health care workers, who, because they have a cold, are sent home for 14 days.

“For these people we need to make sure if they are infected with coronavirus, as if they just have a cold, we may need them back before the two-week quarantine is over.”

However, this does not change our testing strategy, which is to focus on testing those who will need some kind of medical care, even hospitalisation, so that we know if they are at risk of spreading the virus when they come in touch with the health care system.

For all others the message remains, if you have symptoms, even very mild ones, stay at home and avoid close contact with others and wash your hands frequently.

If you get more seriously ill, such as a high fever for several days or respiratory problems call your GP or the on guard after hour medical service.”

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