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Questions and answers on novel coronavirus

FAQ on outbreaks of pneumonia caused by novel coronavirus/COVID-19.

Updated 28 March at 3 p.m.

This FAQ is based on current knowledge. As the situation of the novel coronavirus is constantly evolving, this FAQ will be continuously updated.

About novel coronavirus and COVID-19

1. What are novel coronavirus and COVID-19?

Coronavirus is a family of viruses that can cause symptoms of a common cold, but can also cause more severe respiratory infections.

Severe cases were seen due to infections with the SARS-coronavirus (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which caused a large disease outbreak in 2003, and the MERS-coronavirus (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), which has been the cause of severe pulmonary infections on the Arabian peninsula since 2012.

The outbreak with novel coronavirus started in China in December 2019, and spread quickly to neighboring countries and subsequently to the rest of the world, including Denmark. WHO declared the situation to be a pandemic on 11 March 2020, meaning an epidemic on several continents.

The number of new cases is continuously updated and can be seen on the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s pages dedicated to the outbreak.

WHO named the disease caused by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019).

Read more about coronavirus on the website of Statens Serum Institut

2. What do we know about novel coronavirus and COVID-19?

We know of many other types of coronavirus, which in a normal winter season in Denmark are the cause of the common cold.

The novel coronavirus is a type of coronavirus we haven’t seen before. This means that there are many things we don’t know about it. This also means that everybody is susceptible to infection because our immune systems have never “met” this virus before, which in turn means that many can become infected and become ill. This is why we are handling novel coronavirus differently than a typical flu epidemic, for example.   

Our knowledge comes from several sources, including reports about the outbreak in China, from international authorities, and from following how the situation develops in other countries. Even though we can’t compare directly with other countries, we can draw on international knowledge and experience and try to apply them to Danish conditions.

We are following the situation very closely and obtain news and updates from other countries all the time. We are also constantly adjusting our risk evaluations and efforts in the current situation.

3. What are the symptoms of COVID-19, and how serious is the disease?

Symptoms develop between 2 and 12 days from the time of exposure, where the majority develop symptoms after 5-7 days.

Typical symptoms at the start and in cases of mild illness resemble common symptoms of the flu and other upper respiratory tract infections, with a sore throat, malaise, muscle pain, dry cough and fever. In many cases, you can’t tell mild symptoms of COVID-19 apart from a common cold or flu, which are caused by other viruses. The majority with mild illness don’t need medical attention and recover within 4-6 days. The symptoms can vary from person to person, and symptoms, like whether you have a fever, cannot be used to identify COVID-19.

Some people develop more severe illnesses, where after 4-7 days they experience a worsening of their cough, increasing fever and difficulty breathing. Some develop pneumonia, which can be so severe that they are in need of hospital admission.

The length of time with symptoms varies. Amongst those with mild illness, the symptoms will typically go away within 4-6 days, while those with severe illness can be affected for several weeks. 

The knowledge we have shows that the vast majority that are infected with novel coronavirus only develop mild symptoms, while a minority become so ill that they require hospital admission.

In the case of the outbreak in China, we saw that 80% developed mild symptoms, approximately 15% had a need for hospital admission and 5% became severely ill and required treatment in an intensive care unit. Based on current knowledge, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 0,3% and 1% of those infected will die from COVID-19.

The vast majority of serious cases are seen in the elderly, especially those over 80 years old, and in people with chronic disease and in a weakened state. You can read more about risk groups further down, as well as our recommendations if you are at risk under "Special risk groups".

4. How does novel coronavirus spread?

Virus spreads from person to person through droplets. Droplets spread through the air via cough or sneeze at a distance of 1-2 metres, after which they fall quickly to the ground. The virus doesn’t remain airborne after a cough or sneeze for more than a few seconds, therefore the transmission is not airborne. The virus can’t be transmitted through skin, but spreads through mucous membranes, typically those in the nose, mouth and eyes. The virus can't be transmitted though sweat.

One is typically infected by being close to someone who excreting droplets, for example through coughing or sneezing, where the droplets land on one’s mucous membranes in the nose, eyes or mouth, or by touching surfaces (including skin) with virus on them and proceeding to touch one’s nose, eyes or mouth.

We don’t know for sure yet if those who are infected can spread the virus before they develop symptoms. The knowledge we do have shows that people with symptoms are the cause of the vast majority of new cases.

There is no evidence to suggest that novel coronavirus spreads through mosquitoes and mosquito bites.

5. Can I be contagious without symptoms?

It takes between 2 and 12 days from the time you are infected until the time you develop symptoms, and during this time (incubation period) we don’t yet know for sure if you can infect others. If this is the case, then it would only be the last 1-2 days before developing symptons.

If you get sick, how contagious you are depends on how much virus you excrete and how intense your symptoms are, in other words how sick you are. The more virus in your airways, the more you cough and sneeze, the bigger the risk that you spread virus through droplets from your airways.

The knowledge we have so far shows that people with symptoms are the cause of the majority of new cases.

Some people test positive, even though they don’t have symptoms. Asymptomatic people with virus in their airways can probably pass on the infection, but in a limited capacity. If you don’t have symptoms, you don’t cough or sneez as much as those who are sick. Therefore, you don’t excrete as much virus, and it would require close contact to infect others. This is also one of the reasons why we recommend that you limit physical contact with others, for instance hand shakes, hugs and kisses, and keep your distance even if you don’t have any symptoms.

6. Can you be infected with novel coronavirus more than once, and can you tell if you've previously had COVID-19?

There is still much we don’t know about novel coronavirus, including how long immunity lasts after you have been infected. We do know that most other viruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections, like the flu and other types of coronavirus, that one is immune for a period of time, but it differs for how long.

Based on current knowledge about novel coronavirus as well as how the epidemic is developing, there is nothing that implies that there is a significant problem with people being re-infected.

Currently there is no test to show previous infection with novel coronavirus and immunity. Much research is being conducted in this area.

7. Can the virus be transmitted through food?

8. Can the virus be transmitted via surfaces, and should I be afraid to touch things, like currency?

It is unknown precisely how long the virus can survive on surfaces, but it is estimated to be from hours to a few days. It depends greatly on the conditions, for instance, the surface, temperature, humidity, etc.

It is important to remember, that you can’t be infected alone by touching objects with virus on them. Infection requires that the virus comes in contact with mucous membranes in the mouth, nose or eyes. 

Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid to touch things, if you maintain proper hand hygiene and are aware of your hands. We recommend that you wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, including when you come home from outside and avoid touching your face when your hands are not clean.

No studies have been done to show whether novel coronavirus can be transmitted through paper currency or coins. Handling money can be compared with touching other points of contact in public, like doorknobs, elevator buttons, etc., which is associated with a risk of contaminating hands. Therefore, you should avoid points of contact and consider using contact-free payment wherever possible. The most important thing is to make sure that you wash your hands often. When it isn’t possible to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer or a wet wipe. 

UV lamps and freezing do not kill novel coronavirus. It seems that the virus can spread under many different conditions in hot, cold and humid weather.

9. Diagnosis, treatment and vaccination

Novel coronavirus can be detected in a mucous sample collected from the lower respiratory tract or with a swab from the mouth. The need for diagnostics is determined by doctors, and the test is only performed on the patient group described under “Who should be tested?”

At this current time, we can only treat symptoms of COVID-19, and not the disease itself.

Pharmaceutical authorities all over the world support clinical research and pharmaceutical companies in their efforts to produce medicine and a vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and are preparing to process an approval as quickly as possible without compromising safety. There is no available vaccine to protect against COVID-19 yet.

The currently available knowledge for doctors is summarised in the monthly publication Rationel Farmakoterapi here: Information til læger om status på mulig forebyggelse og behandling af COVID-19. (In Danish)

The Danish Medicines Authority follows this development closely and continuously updates its list of studies and research about medication for the treatment of and vaccines against COVID-19 happening on a global level.

Read more about the development of medicine for COVID-19 on the Danish Medicines Authority’s website. (In Danish)

10. Who should be tested?

Just as we don’t test people with mild symptoms for other common cold viruses that are widespread in Denmark, there is no reason to test everybody with mild respiratory symptoms for novel coronavirus now that the virus has spread more in our society.

A positive test does not determine how you should react or determine the doctor’s treatment. Therefore, you do not need to be tested if you only have mild symptoms, even if you suspect they are caused by novel coronavirus.

It is perfectly natural that people would like to know if they have COVID-19 if they become ill. We must, however, prioritize our resources and use them where they have the greatest effect on handling and treatment, for instance serving to prevent the spread of infection at hospitals.

The patients who should be referred to testing are:

  • All those with suspected moderate to severe COVID-19, where the suspicion is confirmed by a clinical evaluation at a COVID-19 evaluation unit at a hospital
  • Residents of nursing homes, assisted living or the like, where there is an outbreak
  • Those at risk of a critical course of illness (including elderly patients, especially those over 80 years of age, people with severe mental illness, etc.) with moderate to severe symptoms, based on a doctor’s evaluation
  • Those with mild to moderate symptoms, who have critical functions in the healthcare or eldercare sector or work with the socially vulnerable groups, or other special critical functions in society, if their employer finds it reasonable with a fast return to work.
  • Women due to give birth and newborns, where COVID-19 is suspected

If after an evaluation COVID-19 is suspected, the doctor can determine that a test should be performed. As test capacity increases, it will be possible to test more people, and the increased capacity can be used to expand the groups who can be tested.

If you are an employer or employee in the healthcare, eldercare or social sectors, read more here.  

11. Isn't COVID-19 just the same as the flu?

It’s true that it seems that most people who are young and otherwise healthy only get mild symptoms and that severe COVID-19 disease is seen primarily amongst the elderly and those with moderate to severe chronic disease. In that sense, COVID-19 resembles the flu, even though they are caused by two different infections.

There are, however, some essential differences that are making authorities react differently to COVID-19 than they react to the flu.

Firstly, there are many things that we don’t know about COVID-19 and novel coronavirus, which is why there has been a good reason to follow the development of the situation closely and be extra cautious until we know more about the virus and the disease.

Secondly, with common influenza, there would be a portion of the population who are immune due to vaccination or previous infection with the same type of flu. Novel coronavirus is a completely new virus, which means that everybody is susceptible to infection, because our immune systems have never “met” this virus before. This means that there is a risk that many could become ill at the same time, which can lead to a large burden on society and especially hospitals.

You can read more in the section "About the outbreak in Denmark and the Danish Health Authority's strategy"

Thirdly, we want to protect our elderly and vulnerable citizens, regardless of whether it is again flu or COVID-19, because it is especially these groups who can become very ill. In the case of flu epidemics in Denmark, we have some years with over 1,000 deaths, which we think is too many. This is why the Danish Health Authority recommends a flu vaccine to the elderly and vulnerable groups. Unfortunately, we don’t have this option with COVID-19, so we must try to prevent infection amongst the vulnerable in other ways.

This is why we recommend that all – also the young and otherwise healthy people – follow our advice and held to protect the vulnerable and society as a whole. You can help by following our general advice, which you can see in the section "The Danish Health Authority's general advice to the Danish population". 

About the outbreak in Denmark and the Danish Health Authority's strategy

1. What is the status of the outbreak in Denmark?

The number of Danes infected with novel coronavirus has risen markedly, which is the basis for the authorities’ strategy.

You can follow the number of confirmed cases in Denmark here on our website, which is updated daily. If you are worried about the situation, read more further down. 

2. What are the Danish Health Authority's strategy and recommendations?

The Danish Health Authority follows the situation closely and we adapt our strategy, recommendations and measures accordingly.

When there were only a few imported cases of COVID-19 in Denmark, we used a containment strategy. This strategy was based on fast diagnosis, contact tracing and quarantine of those evaluated to be at risk. The goal was to delay the spread of COVID-19 in Denmark.

Now that there is a sharp rise in the number of cases in Denmark, this containment strategy is irrelevant

This is why we have changed to a mitigation strategy. This means that we expect infection to spread widely in Denmark. Our efforts are still focused on limiting this spread through measures like improved hygiene and limiting larger gatherings and close contact. We also have a focus on those who become severely ill and need treatment, as well as on special risk groups. You can read more about what a mitigation strategy is in "What is the goal of the current mitigation strategy?" in this section.

The overall goal is to prevent many from getting ill at the same time and to protect special risk groups in order to prevent severe cases as much as possible.

Because this is a new virus, everybody is susceptible to infection, since our immune systems haven’t ”met” this virus before. This means that there is a risk of many becoming ill at the same time.

Having many ills at the same time leads to great pressure on our health care system, just at it can have great consequences for many functions in our society. This can mean that the treatment of other diseases and conditions can be delayed and that sick leave can affect other functions in our society. This is why many can be affected, besides those infected with novel coronavirus.

If many cases occur within a short time period, we will also experience a very high infection pressure, which leads to many more being infected.

And we want very much, of course, to look out for our elderly and vulnerable, who are at increased risk of developing severe illness.

You can read more about our strategic considerations in the publication COVID-19 – Risikovurdering, strategi og tiltag ved epidemi i Danmark (In Danish)

3. What is the goal of the current mitigation strategy?

With our mitigation strategy, we are focusing our efforts on limiting the consequences of the spread of COVID-19 in our society. 

This means that we are both trying to delay the spread of the infection and trying to prevent too many from being infected at the same time, as well as protecting the vulnerable groups, namely elderly, especially over the age of 80 and those with moderate to severe chronic disease. 

We are doing this through the following measures:

  • Prevention of spreading in society through, for example, general recommendations to citizens about proper hand hygiene
  • Protection of the elderly and vulnerable groups, for example with special recommendations for vulnerable groups, etc.
  • Preparing our health care system by transferring personnel, skills and equipment, etc. as well as prioritizing our health care system’s resources for those who need hospital treatment through updated recommendations for who should be tested, so that those with severe illness are prioritized, etc. 

The Danish Health Authority’s focus in the coming time will remain to be:

  • Monitoring the development of the epidemic, and the effect of the implemented measures
  • Preparation of our health care system
  • Communication to both citizens and employees in the healthcare and eldercare sector

You can read more about our strategic considerations in COVID-19 – Epidemiens første bølge. Status og strategi. (in Danish)

4. Does Denmark have the necessary capacity to treat all those who become ill?

Health authorities make prognoses and evaluations of how many COVID-19 patients will become so ill that they require admittance to hospitals, including how many patients will require admission to intensive care units and how many will need treatment with a respirator. We also consider equipment, personnel and skills in the healthcare system.

Health authorities are in the process of preparing the healthcare system and ensuring the necessary equipment, for instance, protective equipment, tests and respirators. This work is happening in close cooperation between health authorities, regions and others who play a role. There is also close cooperation between health authorities and regions regarding coordination between hospitals so that the total capacity is used as best as possible.

According to the health authorities’ prognosis, we can expect that this epidemic will lead to great pressure on the Danish healthcare system. Luckily, the prognosis also shows that the healthcare system will be able to handle those who become very ill and that the current reorganisation of the Danish healthcare system has provided the country with sufficient intensive units and respirators. 

You can read the Danish Health Authority’s note about prognosis and capacity in Denmark for intensive therapy here (in Danish)

5. How can we monitor the spread of the infection in Denmark, now that we are only testing those with severe symptoms?

With a mitigation strategy, it doesn’t make sense professionally to test all those with symptoms, but instead to focus on those who have the most severe illness and are admitted to hospitals.

Statens Serum Institut is working on setting up monitoring systems so that we can produce estimates for the spread of infection in Denmark.

This is done by so-called sentinel testing, where several general practitioners spread out across the country are chosen to test on a weekly basis a few patients with mild respiratory symptoms as well as a few patients without respiratory symptoms. This method is recognized and is also commonly used for monitoring the flu in Denmark.

Beyond this, Statens Serum Institut will also use the internet-based symptom monitor called “Influmeter”, where residents can report weekly whether they have symptoms. All residents can help by reporting to Influmeter. You can sign up here if you want to help. (The website is in Danish).  

6. How afraid should you be of COVID-19 in Denmark?

Health authorities expect many Danes to be infected with novel coronavirus.

We know that it is particularly the elderly, especially those over 80 years of age, and those with moderate to severe chronic disease that are at risk of developing severe illness. You can read more about special risk groups and special recommendations for them in the section “Special risk groups”.  

The vast majority of those who are not particularly at risk will have a mild course of illness, and do not have more cause for worry with regards to their health than they would with a normal flu. We do know, however, that young and otherwise healthy persons are the ones who spread the virus the most. This is because they are very mobile and don’t stay home even if they are ill. 

This is why the young and otherwise healthy have a special responsibility, and why it is important that they follow the Danish Health Authority’s recommendations. 

You can read more about our strategy in the sections about the Danish Health Authority’s strategy and recommendations, and more about general advice in the section “The Danish Health Authority’s general advice to the Danish population”.

The Danish Health Authority's general advice to the Danish population

1. Why is it so important that everybody adheres to the recommendations?

The purpose of the authorities’ measures are:

  • To ensure that the spread of infection is delayed, so that not too many become ill at the same time. This will prevent our health care system from becoming overloaded so that we can provide the best possible treatment for all who need help, not just those with COVID-19
  • To protect those in risk groups, in other words, those over 65 years of age and those with certain chronic diseases (see under "Special risk groups")

Children and adults are often those who spread infection because they are more active and more often out in public. Even though COVID-19 seems to primarily cause severe illness in the elderly and those with chronic disease, it is of the utmost importance that all others also help with limiting the spread of infection as much as possible.

You can read our recommendations for how to conduct yourself in the section "The Danish Health Authority's general advice". Keep yourself updated on other authorities’ recommendations via their common website (in Danish), as well as the government’s recommendations and restrictions on the government's website (please note that the site is in Danish).

If everybody follows these recommendations, we can achieve a lot with regards to limiting the effects of COVID-19 in our society.

2. The Danish Health Authority's general advice

The Danish Health Authority’s general advice with regards to limiting the spread of infection and protecting risk groups are:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitiser
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve
  • Limit physical contact
  • Be diligent with cleaning at home, including airing out
  • Elderly and those with chronic disease – keep your distance and ask others to be considerate

We recommend that you follow this advice and integrate it into everything that you do.

There are more in-depth information and examples below. If you follow the authorities’ advice, you can help prevent the spread of infection and protect yourself and others from becoming infected.

Pay attention to developing symptoms. The typical symptoms of beginning and mild illness resemble common symptoms of the flu and other upper respiratory infections:

  • Sore throat
  • General malaise
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Dry cough and fever

Some may also experience headaches, nausea, diarrhoea and possibly other symptoms. These mild symptoms of COVID-19 cannot be distinguished from a cold or the flu, which are caused by other viruses.

If you are sick have symptoms, stay home and read more about what to do under "I've become ill - what should I do?" in this section.

Watch our video with general advice here.(In Danish).

3. How do I keep my hands clean?

Proper hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the spread of disease in the community.

 

First and foremost, we recommend that you wash your hands with soap and water. It is as effective as hand sanitiser to keep your hands clean and reduce the risk of spreading infection with bacteria and viruses through your hands. Washing your hand with soap and water is what you should do at home.

 

If you are out and about and don't have access to soap and water, then hand sanitiser is a good alternative. Hand sanitiser is only effective on dry skin and on hands that are not visibly dirty. Remember to wash your hands when you get home. If you do not have access to soap and water or hand sanitiser, you can use antibacterial products such as alcohol wipes or wet wipes instead to maintain proper hand hygiene. 

Remember to help your children wash their hands properly.

 

How to wash your hands:

  • Remove any finger rings, bracelets and watches before washing your hands, and wash your hands and wrists thoroughly.
  • Wet your hands and wrist before applying soap - if you use soap on dry hands it can irritate the skin.
  • Lather your hands thoroughly with soap.
  • Scrub your hands thoroughly for at least 15 seconds, and lather your fingertips, thumbs, between your fingers, the backs of your hands, your palms and wrists.
  • Rinse off the soap and pat your hands completely try using a towel/paper towel. We recommend using your own towel or disposable wipes/paper towels.
  • The whole process should take about 60 seconds.

 

Moisturise your hands with hand cream to prevent your hands drying out due to frequent handwashing.

 

You can watch a video on how to wash your hands properly here.

You can watch a video on how children wash their hands properly here.

 

How to use hand sanisiter:

  • Your hands should be dry and not visibly dirty before applying hand sanitiser.
  • Apply the sanitiser to the palm of one hand.
  • Rub the sanitiser over all the surfaces of your hands, including your fingertips, thumbs, the space between your fingers, the backs of your hands, your palms and wrists.
  • The appropriate amount of sanitiser should keep your skin moist for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Keep rubbing with sanitiser until your hands are dry.

 

About hand sanitisers:

  • Antiseptic hand sanitiser products should be ethanol-based with a content of 70-85% alcohol, and 1-3% glycerol to prevent drying of the skin. You cannot use hand sanitizer to sterilize objects as the glycerol will leave a greasy/sticky residue on the surface.
  • We advise you against making your own hand sanitiser. Homemade sanitisers can be unhealthy to breathe in, can irritate the skin and eyes, is dangerous if swallowed (e.g. by children in the home), can be flammable, and it is impossible at home to get it mixed properly so it is effective at killing the virus and safe to use. Access the Danish Environmental Protection Agency's website to learn more about hand sanitisers and products.

 

Proper hand hygiene is particularly important in the following situations:

  • after going to the bathroom
  • before cooking
  • before eating
  • after blowing your nose
  • after changing your baby's diaper
  • when you come home from work, shopping, etc.

 

We recommend that you avoid touching your face to prevent the virus from entering your eyes, nose or mouth, etc. And never touch your face with dirty hands. You can read about how the virus spreads under the section "About new coronavirus and COVID-19".

 

4. Recommendations for conduct in public

he Danish Health Authority’s recommendations for conduct in public are as follows:

  • Keep a distance of 1-2 metres from others
    • The infection spreads through droplets, which spread from person to person through sneezing and coughing, for example.
    • Avoid shaking hands, hugging and kissing.
    • Minimise your activity in places where there can be many people, like supermarkets.
    • Maintain extra distance from people who appear sick as well as those in risk groups.
    • Sit with a seat between yourself and others.
  • Maintain proper hand hygiene and be extra aware of your hands
    • The infection can be spread by hands if you touch others or objects with virus on your hands.
    • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your face.
    • Avoid touching door handles, elevator buttons, etc. as much as possible.
  • Show consideration if you have a cough or sneeze
    • Sneeze or cough into a disposable tissue or into the crook of your elbow.

You may run, bathe outdoors, etc if you follow the general advice.

If you have to ride together with others in a car, we recommend that you follow our general advice about cleaning, particularly if you are driving with somebody outside of your household.

If you are sick and have symptoms, stay home and follow our recommendations under "I've become ill - what should I do?" in this section.

The Prime Minister presented at press conferences on 11 and 17 March 2020 a list of injunctions with regards to conduct in public, including that it is not allowed to gather more than 10 people at public events or activities, both indoors and outdoors, and all are encouraged to do the same in their homes. At the same time all businesses where there is very close customer contact is closed, including hairdressers, restaurants, water pipe cafés, discotheques, etc. All public employees in non-critical functions are sent home, and all schools, day-care institutions and indoor cultural institutions are closed.

It is not allowed to visit family and loved ones in nursing homes, assisted living, hospitals, etc. Call the institution if you have questions about visits.

You can read more about the government’s initiatives on their website (please note that the site is in Danish).

5. Recommendations for how you should handle contact with others

Besides the above-mentioned recommendations, we recommend that you:

  • Limit activities where you have contact with others, including limiting the number of guests
  • Cancel visits if you or your guests have respiratory symptoms.
  • Avoid physical contact - such as handshakes, hugs and kisses - with someone outside your household.
  • Make sure that you sit 1-2 metres apart from someone outside your household.
  • Ensure easy access to hand hygiene.
  • Be thorough and frequent with cleaning. 

You may hug each other at home unless someone is ill. In that case, we recommend that the affected persons keep their distance from the other members of the household. Read more under "I­ve become ill - what should I do?"

See our advice for children and parents in the section "For children and parents".

You may have guests if both your household and your guests are symptom free. Limit the number and frequency of visits, and follow our general recommendations - including avoiding physical contact, keeping your distance, airing out and ensuring that guests wash their hands or use hand sanitiser when they come and go.

There is no indication that novel coronavirus is transmitted via semen or blood, so you can still have sex with your regular partner - provided you are both healthy. It is not recommended that you have sex with changing partners as you can spread the virus via droplets from the respiratory tract that can land in the mouth or nose of someone nearby and possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

6. Recommendations for hygiene and cleaning at home

We recommend that you ensure proper hand hygiene in the home, including washing hands when you come in from the outdoors, before meals and cooking, after you blow your nose, etc. You should remove rings, bracelets and watches before washing, and wash your hands and wrists thoroughly. See "How do I keep my hands clean?"

Cleaning should be done with usual methods and products, but more frequently and thoroughly.

If someone in your household gets sick, you can read more about how to clean in "I've become ill - what should I do?"

If you have had a visitor with symptoms, you should:

  • Clean extra thoroughly wherever the visitor has had contact, like door handles, armrests, desks, keyboards, touchscreens, etc. with a surface disinfectant with regular cleaning products. You can also use disinfectants on surfaces and objects. Ensure that the surface can tolerate the disinfectant. Don't use hand sanitiser as it causes greasy build-up on surfaces.
  • Focus on proper hand hygiene while cleaning, including not touching your face while cleaning (eating, smoking, applying cosmetics, etc.) and use the telephone with clean hands. Follow the other general advice about proper hand hygiene. Use gloves.

7. I've become ill - what should I do?

The typical symptoms of beginning and mild illness resemble common symptoms of the flu and other upper respiratory infections:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • General malaise

These mild symptoms of COVID-19 cannot be distinguished from a cold or the flu, which are caused by other viruses.

If you have symptoms but are in doubt as to whether you are “really” sick, we recommend that you consider yourself sick.

If you are sick, we recommend the following:

  • Follow the Danish Healthy Authority’s general advice
  • Go home right away. Stay home. Don’t go to work.
  • Avoid close contact with other people. Cancel visits and cleaning assistance, and talk with people over the telephone or video chat. Get others to assist you with shopping so you don’t go out and risk spreading infection.
  • Keep your distance from Have as little contact as possible with others in your household. Avoid physical contact, like kisses and hugs, and try to maintain 1-2 metres distance. Avoid sleeping in the same bed and spend time in separate rooms.
  • Focus on proper hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, or use hand sanitiser, particularly after going to the toilet, before preparing food, when you come in from the outdoors, and after you blow your nose. Be especially aware of your hands and avoid touching your face, and cough and sneeze into disposable tissues or the crook of your elbow. Don’t share towels with others.
  • Clean your bathroom and kitchen daily, as well as rooms you share with others in your household. Use regular cleaning products and focus particularly on points of shared contact, like door handles, coffee machines, touchscreens, etc. If you can, you should take care of cleaning yourself, in order to avoid others becoming infected, You should also dispose of used tissues.
  • Wash towels, bedlinens and underwear at 80°C and other clothes as much as possible at 60°C
  • Air out thoroughly at least twice a day for 10 minutes.
  • Stay away from people who are at special risk for developing severe illness, including the elderly

If you have mild symptoms, you shouldn’t call your doctor. There is no reason to be tested for novel coronavirus, since even if you are infected, a test won’t change your treatment or how you should conduct yourself. Read more in "Who should be tested?"

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, but there are several measures you can take to alleviate your symptoms.

  • Drink plenty of fluids, particularly if you have a high fever. 
  • Muscle aches, headache and fever can be relieved with paracetamol (i.e. Panodil). For mild aches and pains, including symptoms from viral respiratory tract infections, we recommend that you use paracetamol instead of pain medication like NSAID (i.e. Ibuprofen, also known as Ipren). In the case of fever, paracetamol should be taken regularly to avoid unpleasant swings in temperature. Use medicine for the shortest period of time possible, in the lowest possible dose, and never take more than the recommended dose. The amount in an over-the-counter package is often enough for an illness.
  • Sore throat can be soothed with sucking tablets or hard candy.
  • We don’t recommend over-the-counter medicine for dry cough, as it usually has a very limited effect.

Read more about when to contact a doctor under question 7 "When should I contact a doctor?" in this section, and when to contact a doctor if your child gets sick in "What should I do if my child gets sick?"

You are considered non-contagious 48 hours after you no longer have symptoms. Rather stay home a day too many than a day too little, and arrange for assignments to be done from home if possible.

If you work in the healthcare, eldercare or social sector, you can read more in the section "Special information for employers and employees in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors".

8. When should I contact a doctor?

If you develop severe symptoms, like significant or increasing trouble breathing or high fever, your symptoms worsen, or you develop symptoms and belong to a risk group (read more in the section "Special risk groups") you should call your general practitioner or on-call service, just as you would normally do in this type of situation. The doctor will decide the further course, including whether you should be tested for novel coronavirus.

If your doctor suspects COVID-19, the doctor will evaluate whether you can stay home or if you need to be referred on. Be prepared that your doctor won’t necessarily ask you to come to their consultation, particularly if the doctor suspects COVID-19. This is because the doctor is attempting to limit the spread of infection as much as possible, in places like waiting rooms, for example. Many doctors will try to carry out consultations with patients with respiratory symptoms over the phone or video consultation if they are in doubt as to whether there is a risk of spreading infection.

If you work in the healthcare, eldercare or social sector, read more about what to do in the section "Special information for employers and employees in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors".

In the case of children, read more in "What should I do if my child gets sick?"

9. How can I help limit the consequences of novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Denmark?

You can help by doing the following:
  • Follow authorities’ recommendations and help inform others of them
    You can see our recommendations above.
  • Consider if someone you know needs help.
    It could be an elderly person or someone with special risk who needs help with shopping or a ride, so they don’t go out and expose themselves to infection. It could also be someone who has symptoms, so they don’t go out and risk infecting others.
  • Cancel events and gatherings, particularly with those in special risk groups.
  • Take care of our healthcare system.
    Seek information and advice other places, like websites and hotlines. If you get sick, make sure you read the points above in depth, and reconsider if you need medical help before calling your general practitioner, on-call service or acute clinics. But don’t be afraid to contact a doctor if you need medical attention, also if it’s in relation to other diseases than COVID-19. Follow the doctor’s instructions and be patient if you don’t experience the same level of service you are used to.

If you have a healthcare-related background or work with education and are not currently working, like a retired or unemployed doctor, nurse, medical student or pedagogue, and want to help, you can sign up with the corona-job bank in your region. Links to all five regional corona-job banks:

 

10. I've been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 - what should I do?

If you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should be especially aware of developing symptoms that could be a sign of COVID-19 during the following 14 days.

Close contact is defined as:

  • If a member of your household has a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • If you have had direct physical contact (like a handshake, for example) with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • If you have had direct contact with contagious secretions from a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19, for example being coughed on or touching a used tissue
  • If you have had close contact face-to-face within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes, like a conversation with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • If you have been in a closed environment, like a meeting room, for more than 15 minutes with less than 2 metres distance from someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • If you have participated in the care of a patient with COVID-19, without the use of personal protective equipment as prescribed

If you develop symptoms, you can see what to do under question 6. “I’ve become ill – what should I do?” in this section.

If you work in the healthcare, eldercare or social sector and have contact with patients or citizens who are a part of special risk groups, read more in the section ”Special information for employers and employees in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors as well as front line personnel outside of the healthcare system (including police)”

11. I­m young, healthy and not in a risk group - why should I behave differently?

Even though you are young and healthy, it’s important that you help limit spreading the virus.

We know from other infectious diseases, that the young and otherwise healthy are also those who spread infection the most. This is because they are very mobile in public and don’t stay home even if they are sick.

This is why you have a special responsibility, and it’s important that you follow our recommendations. You can read more about why this is important in the section about our strategy.

12. Good advice on mental health, so you and your loved ones get through the epidemic as well as possible

It can be a challenge for many people, that much of the framework in our society is changed during the COVID-19 epidemic. This can affect our quality of life and how well we thrive.

The Danish Health Authority has written a collection of good advice about what you can do to maintain and strengthen your own mental health and thriving:

  • Maintain your usual daily rhythm and get enough sleep

    The less sleep you get, the more likely you will be to worry and be anxious.

  • Eat a healthy, varied diet

    This will ensure that you have the energy for daily challenges.

  • Keep yourself physically active

    Physical activity can be many things, including gardening or gymnastics in your living room. Make it a priority to get outside, be active and get fresh air every day. Daylight also lifts your mood.

  • Keep yourself mentally active

    Keep your brain active by doing different kinds of activities. Read, play a game, write in a journal, listen to music or do something creative.

  • Create structure in your day

    Make a plan or schedule with activities for the day or week, and establish routines. If you are working at home, try to work during the same time period you usually do.

  • Remember that you are making a difference

    Hold on to the thought that you are actively contributing to the effort to look out for vulnerable citizens and make sure that Denmark can more quickly get the epidemic under control, by keeping your distance and staying home. Be aware of how you can support and help others in your daily life.

  • Keep in touch with the outside world – do something together at a distance

    Call your family and friends, talk over video and use social media.

  • Accept that this crisis can be a burden for your loved ones

    This unexpected situation can put pressure on your relationships with those you are together with more than usual. Be understanding with yourself and others, if you sometimes lose patience.

  • Relax and take a break from your worries

    Limit the amount of news you watch or read. Chose reliable sources for news.

  • Don’t blame yourself or others for being infected with COVID-19

    Remember that the disease is caused by a virus, not by people.

  • Take care of yourself

Try to avoid habits like irregular sleep, too much alcohol or smoking. Make it a priority to do good things for yourself. When you take care of yourself, you are better able to take care of others.

You can read more about mental health in the Danish Health Authority’s folder here. (In Danish)

If you need to talk to somebody, you can contact Psykiatrifondens advisors on mail, chat or tel. 39 25 25 25. Contacts and inquiries made to Psykiatrifonden come both from people who experience general worries and anxiety about infection and spreading infection, and from people who experience that isolation and a limited social life affect their mental health. Some contacts come from people who have a mental illness or other forms of vulnerability, and experience that treatment, home visits, etc. have been changed or stopped, where the consequence is a worsening of their symptoms.  

For children and parents

1. Who is at increased risk of infection and severe illness?

It appears that children are often less affected and have milder symptoms if they become infected with novel coronavirus.

 

At the current time, there are no reports that children with chronic diseases develop more serious illness. Based on a principle of caution, we recommend that children with moderate to severe chronic disease also be regarded as being a special risk group. Read more in the section "Special risk groups".

 

Children can also spread infection if they get sick, and we recommend that you help your children with observing our general hygiene advice, so that the spread of infection is limited. Read more under "General advice for parents and children" in this section. 

2. General advice for parents and children

The following advice can make it easier for you to navigate through daily life during the COVID-19 epidemic, and help limit the spread of infection at the same time.

  • Help your children with hygiene.

    Children should also follow our general advice (above). You can watch our video for children about hand hygiene.

  • You may hug your children, as long as they don’t show signs of illness.

    Children surely need extra love these days.

  • Healthy children may play with healthy children.

    Playing with other children is important for children’s mental health.
    We recommend that you limit play dates to 1-2 children, that they play with the same children, and that play dates should preferably be held outdoors, which minimises the risk of spreading infection and makes it easier to keep a distance.

  • Children can go to playgrounds. Avoid playgrounds with too many children.

    Be sure that children wash their hands when they get home, and don’t share their toys.

  • Postpone birthdays and other gatherings.
  • Children of divorced parents may move between parents as usual.

    If a child is sick, we recommend that they stay where they are, and are kept physically separated from others. If one parent gets sick, you can consider whether the child should move to the other parent before planned and be extra careful of the child developing symptoms.

  • Don’t take children shopping with you, if it’s possible.
  • In the case of common homeschooling, the same rules apply as for play dates, with 1-2 children visiting, and cancel if anyone is sick.

We have made a video for parents, which you can watch here.

You can download this advice for families with children as a PDF here.

You can download our guidelines for children and play dates as a PDF here.

3. What should I do if my child gets sick?

You should follow the same advice as for adults, see the section "The Danish Health Authority's general advice". We recommend that you avoid physical contact as much as possible, but you should, of course, provide your children with the care and affection they need, also physically. 

Paracetamol (e.g. Panodil) can be used to treat mild pains and fever, also in children. The Danish Medicines Authority has announced that paracetamol in liquid form will require a prescription and that paracetamol suppositories for children will only be sold in pharmacies. You can, however, give your child tablets, and the Danish Health Authority has published a note with advice for parents about pain relievers (so-called “børnepanodil”) which you can see here.

You don’t automatically need to call a doctor if your child develops respiratory symptoms. You should, however, be attentive and contact a doctor if your child:

  • Has trouble breathing, including shortness of breath or rapid, shallow breathing
  • Becomes disoriented, confused or difficult to wake up
  • Develops cold, pale or blueish skin, or remarkably cold hands and feet

If your child has had close contact with some with COVID-19, you should be particularly aware of swinging temperature and affected general condition, in other words, if your child seems very ill, distant or difficult to rouse.

If you need medical assistance, it is important that you call first and don’t show up at the doctor’s office without an appointment.

Outside of opening hours, call the on-call service in your region

  • Region Hovedstaden, Akuttelefon: 1813
  • Region Nordjylland, Lægevagten: 70 15 03 00
  • Region Midtjylland, Lægevagten: 70 11 31 31
  • Region Sjælland, Lægevagten: 70 15 07 00
  • Region Syddanmark, Lægevagten: 70 11 07 07

4. How should I talk to my child about novel coronavirus and COVID-19?

Children can have many questions about novel coronavirus, especially with the wide media coverage and the sudden changes to everyday life. If children don’t have things put into perspective and talk about any fears they may have, they can end up carrying many worries with them.

The Danish Health Authority together with Børns Vilkår produced two videos, that can both help children find answers to their questions and help prepare parents to talk to children about it. The first film is aimed at schoolchildren ages 6-15 and answers questions about novel coronavirus. The second film is aimed at adults and gives good advice about how to talk to children about novel coronavirus:

  • Listen to the child’s concerns
  • Talk to the child about facts
  • Talk to the child about the news
  • Ask the child if they got answers to their questions

Watch the films for children and parents here. (Both films are in Danish).

The organisation Børn, Unge og Sorg has also founded a hotline for children, youths and parents, who may need to talk to a psychologist. It can be a good idea to talk with a psychologist if a child or youth is vulnerable, for instance has anxiety or has a family with difficulties, perhaps because of serious illness, and therefore has further worries because of the current situation. The hotline is open daily from 9 to 16 at telephone number 69 16 16 67.

You can read more on their website.(The site is in Danish).

Special risk groups

1. Who is at special risk of infection or severe illness?

You can be at special risk of infection and developing severe illness with COVID-19 if you belong to one of the following groups:

  • Older people over 65 years of age
  • People with the following chronic diseases
    • Cardiovascular disease (not including well treated high blood pressure)
    • Lung disease (not included well-treated asthma)
    • Chronic kidney disease with reduced kidney function
    • Chronic liver disease
    • Diabetes type 1 and 2, particularly if you have other effects from the disease
    • A muscular and neuromuscular disease where there is weakened cough or difficulty clearing mucous from the airways
    • Severe obesity with a BMI over 35-40, depending on other risk factors
    • Special blood diseases, where there could be an increased risk of complications
  • People with reduced immune capacity as a result of
    • Blood diseases
    • Organ transplantation
    • Immunosuppressive treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation as a part of cancer treatment
    • HIV infection with severe impairment of the immune system
  • Children with chronic disease (as listed above) or with effects from premature birth
  • Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after giving birth (based on a principle of caution)

COVID-19 is a new disease, therefore, there are many things we still don’t know about it.

Our current knowledge from China about COVID-19 has shown that the elderly, especially those over age 80, are at special risk of developing severe illness with a need for hospital admission and an increased risk of death. The same applies to those with certain moderate to severe chronic diseases. If you are in doubt as to whether you are at special risk, we recommend that you talk with your treating physician.

Novel coronavirus is a new virus, which is why pregnant women are regarded as a special risk group, based on a principle of caution. This is because we know that pregnant women are generally more susceptible to infections that cause upper respiratory infections, like the flu. You can read more in the section “Special information for pregnant women”.

Children can also spread infection, which is why we recommend that they be assisted in following our general hygiene advice in order to limit spreading. See more in the section "General advice for parents and children".

2. What should I do if I belong to a special risk group?

We recommend that you consider how you can best protect yourself from infection and that you do the following if you belong to a special risk group:

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Avoid places with many people in close contact. We discourage you from using public transport, especially in rush hour.
  • Ensure good hand hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly, if you have touched a door handle for example, and when you come home. Consider using gloves if you go out.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes if you don’t have clean hands, as the virus typically spreads from hands to mucous membranes in the nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Keep a distance of 1-2 metres from others, particularly if they appear to be ill. Droplets from coughs and sneezes spread through the air at 1-2 meters distance, where they can infect others through the mouth, nose or eyes. The droplets do, however, fall quickly to the ground after.
  • Avoid physical contact (handshakes, hugs, kisses) and cancel social activities and hobbies such as training at fitness centres, going to clubs and attending large family gatherings.
  • You should not take care of grandchildren if they have symptoms.

Contact your treating physician if you are in doubt as to whether you belong to a vulnerable group.

If you belong to a special risk group and work in the healthcare, eldercare or social sector in a critical function, read more in the section ”I am employed in the healthcare or eldercare sector and belong to a special risk group – what should I do?”

3. One of my relatives/loved ones belongs to a special risk group - how should I conduct myself?

As a relative/loved one of someone in a special risk group, it is perfectly natural to be worried. Generally, we recommend that you are extra careful with following our general advice (read more above). And remember that we are lucky to have a very good healthcare system in Denmark, which is ready to help if there is a need.

If one of your relatives/loved ones belongs to a special risk group, we recommend that you limit visits and physical contact as much as possible. You can instead use frequent phone/videocalls.

We encourage you to consider how you can help, for instance with shopping or driving, so that your loved one doesn’t have to go out and risk exposing themselves to infection.

If you live with someone who belongs to a special risk group, like a partner or child, we recommend that you follow our general advice strictly with regard to limiting the spread of infection. (See more in the section "The Danish Health Authority's general advice").

Pay extra attention to hand hygiene and be especially careful with hygiene and cleaning at home. Also pay close attention to whether you develop symptoms, in which case you should isolate yourself from your loved one as much as possible. Read more in the section about “I’ve become ill – what should I do?”

See the Danish Health Authority’s folders "Advice for relatives of a person in one of the risk groups"

You can read more in the Danish Health Authority's folder “Gode råd om ny coronavirus til dig, der har et barn med kronisk sygdom”.(in Danish).

Special information about pregnant women and newborns

1. Am I or my baby at special risk for severe illness?

There is no current evidence that pregnant women are particularly susceptible, that there is a risk for spreading infection from mother to foetus or that foetuses have a special risk, and the Danish Health Authority is following the situation with relevant specialist experts. 

Novel coronavirus is a new virus, which is why pregnant women are regarded as a special risk group, based on a principle of caution. This is because we know that pregnant women are generally more susceptible to infections that cause upper respiratory infections, like the flu. Therefore, we recommend the same precautions as described in "Special risk groups".

 

For the time being, it does not appear that babies are at special risk for severe illness, and babies are not considered to be at special risk, unless the newborn is sick and requires admission to a neonatal ward. 

 

You can also read more in the Danish Health Authority’s folder ”Gode råd om ny coronavirus til dig, der er gravid”. (In Danish).

 

The Danish Health Authority has also written a note about pregnant and birthing women as well as their partners and newborns for health professionals. (In Danish).

 

2. What if I get sick?

You can read about symptoms, how to react if you get sick, as well as other general advice above. This information also applies to pregnant women. It does not appear that COVID-19 affects unborn children if the mother is infected during pregnancy.

You can read more about the consequences for check-ups, labour and delivery, and breastfeeding under "What about my check-ups and screenings?"

3. What about my check-up and screenings?

It is recommended that all pregnancy check-ups and consultations are carried out as usual. You may experience that your birthing place or your doctor have changed some procedures to minimise the spread of infection, so that some consultations may be done by video or over the telephone, if your health care provider finds it justifiable. You should consider attending consultations without relatives. Remember that loved ones/relatives with symptoms must not come to the hospital or doctor’s office.

If you as a pregnant woman have symptoms of COVID-19, your visit should, if possible, be postponed until 48 hours after the symptoms have gone away. You should inform your healthcare provider so they can evaluate whether or not your visit can be postponed.

4. What about labour and delivery?

For pregnant women without symptoms, labour and delivery can proceed as usual. There may, however, only be one relative present at the birth and relatives with symptoms may not come to the hospital.

If you have symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19 and are due to give birth, you should contact your labour and delivery ward and ask how you should proceed.

It is not recommended that mother and baby be separated, even if the mother has COVID-19, unless the newborn is sick and needs to be admitted to a neonatal department.This is because, even though the mother can infect the newborn through droplets, separation can have many negative effects on the newborn, and it doesn’t appear that newborns are at special risk for severe illness. 

Mothers with COVID-19 will receive information and advice from healthcare personnel about special rules for nursing, etc. We recommend that families with newborns where the mother or other family members have COVID-19, are particularly aware of symptoms in the newborn. Families have access to direct telephone contact to the labour and delivery ward the first 3 weeks after being discharged, after which contact should be directed to the general practitioner.

5. May I give birth if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

Home births are not allowed if anyone in the household, including the pregnant woman, have symptoms that can be suspected to be caused by COVID-19.

6. May I breastfeed if I have COVID-19?

Novel coronavirus has not been found in the breastmilk of women with COVID-19 at the time of birth, and it is therefore recommended that mothers breastfeed their babies if they are able to and wish to do so.

It is recommended that nursing mothers follow our general hygiene advice in order to limit the risk of spreading COVID-19. If the mother has COVID-19, we recommend the following additional measures:

  • Wash your hands with water and soap before you touch your baby, breast pump or bottles
  • Wash your breast with water and soap before nursing
  • Use a mouth mask when you are in close contact with your baby, including while nursing
  • If you use a machine for pumping, you should follow the recommendations for cleaning the pump after every use

If you chose to give your baby formula, it is recommended that you strictly follow instructions for sterilizing equipment. If you pump breast milk at the hospital, you should follow local instructions.

The Danish Health Authority recommends against selling and exchanging breast milk between private citizens. There are also certain rules when selling or giving food to others that must be observed. This also applies to breastmilk. For these rules, we refer to the Danish Food Authority.

You can contact your doctor or labour and delivery ward if you have further questions.

Special information for employers and employees in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors as well as front line personnel outside of the healthcare system (including police)

1. Who needs to be particularly vigilant?

Employees in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors, who have contact with patients/citizens, particularly those in special risk groups, have a special responsibility to adhere to the guidelines in order to prevent spreading the infection to the especially vulnerable.

2. What do I need to be aware of and do as an employee in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors?

It is recommended that all workers with non-critical functions stay home from work, for example, with assignments to be done from home, for 14 days starting 13 March 2020. Many workers in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors do, however, have critical functions.

You can read more about how to handle COVID-19, about your obligations, and about how to conduct yourself if you become ill in the Danish Health Authority’s “Retningslinjer for håndtering af COVID-19 i sundhedsvæsenet”.(in Danish).

As far as possibilities for being tested for COVID-19, the following guidelines apply:

  • Healthy persons are generally not offered a test for COVID-19. This includes personnel in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors.
  • Workers in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors who have critical functions, AND have symptoms that are suspicious for COVID-19, can be referred by telephone to a COVID-19 evaluation unit for an evaluation and possible test.
  • Those who have critical functions can return to work after a negative COVID-19 test, even with mild upper respiratory symptoms.

The Danish Health Authority has issued an employer declaration form (in Danish) for testing employees who perform critical functions with a view to allowing them to return to work as soon as possible. Instructions on how to fill in the form, on courses of action – including which employees are covered – are included.

You can read about evaluating COVID-19 status with regards to being declared healthy again in the Danish Health Authority’s “Retningslinjer for håndtering af COVID-19 I sundhedsvæsenet.” (In Danish). Employees can return to work when they have been symptom-free for 48 hours. See also The Danish Health Authority’s note with a description of critical functions (in Danish). 

In relation to hygiene and personal protective equipment, you should follow local guidelines, if they exist. If you are in doubt, you can contact the infectious hygiene department at your hospital or your local hygiene coordinator in municipalities and other organisations. Statens Serum Institut has written infectious hygiene guidelines for handling COVID-19. (In Danish).

The Danish Health Authority has written guidelines for the prevention of the spread of infection and the use of personal protective equipment used for the care of citizens, especially the elderly, chronically ill and weakened.

If you work in the healthcare sector, read this folder. (In Danish).

If you work at a nursing home, read this folder. (In Danish).

If you are a physical therapist or occupational therapist in-home health care, read this folder. (In Danish)

If you have questions regarding how to handle those with confirmed or suspected infection, what to do if personnel or citizens develop symptoms, about personal protection equipment and treatment of patients with COVID-19, etc., you can contact the Danish Patient Safety Authority’s hotline at 70 20 02 66. Note that this hotline is only for personnel in the healthcare, eldercare or social fields who are calling for advice related to work.

If you have questions about how health authorities’ recommendations are handled in the social sector, you can read more on Socialstyrelsen’s website (in Danish) or contact their hotline at 72 42 40 00.

3. What are my special obligations as an employer in the healthcare, eldercare or social sector?

Employers in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors have a special duty to ensure that employees, including those in special risk groups, are informed about important sources of infection, as well as which precautions they can take to protect themselves from infection. It is your responsibility to ensure that it is possible to perform important safety measures with regards to reducing the risk of infection.

You must ensure that personnel with symptoms of COVID-19 do not show up to work and thereby risk infection patients/residents, to inform all employees of the above and to ensure that it is enforced, as well as to send employees home who exhibit signs that could be caused by COVID-19.

Read about your obligations in the Danish Health Authority’s guidelines for handling COVID-19 in the healthcare system (in Danish). We also recommend that you follow our general advice for employers, which you can read about in question 2 "What do I need to be aware of and do as an employee in the healthcare, eldercare or social sectors?” in this section.

Leadership at places of treatment are responsible for informing all employees, who have been in risk situations with close contact with a patient with COVID-19 without the recommended protective equipment. Read more in the Danish Health Authority's "Retningslinjer for håndtering af COVID-19 i sundhedsvæsenet" (in Danish).

With regards to visiting institutions, the Danish Health Authority has written a note on visits at institutions where people belonging to risk groups live or stay for longer periods of time, and you can read more on the Danish Patient Safety Authority’s website. (In Danish).

If you have questions regarding how to handle those with confirmed or suspected infection, what to do if personnel or citizens develop symptoms, about personal protection equipment and treatment of patients with COVID-19, etc., you can contact the Danish Patient Safety Authority’s hotline at 70 20 02 66. Note that this hotline is only for personnel in the healthcare, eldercare or social fields who are calling for advice related to work.

If you are a general practitioner, you can read more in the Danish Health Authority’s note about general practice’s roll under the COVID-19 epidemic. (In Danish)

4. I belong to a special risk group and work in a critical function, and have been asked to work - what should I do?

There are many employed in the healthcare and eldercare sectors who belong to a risk group and have jobs where they can come into close contact with people with COVID-19. 

At the same time, these employees perform many critical functions, and therefore aren’t automatically sent home. You don’t necessarily need to on sick leave (unless you actually are sick).

The Danish Health Authority recommends that special consideration is taken for those in vulnerable groups, and that the individual’s health is highly prioritized in the functions they perform. You should not be exposed to obvious infection risk, for instance don’t handle patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. In cases like this, we recommend that you be moved to another function. Specific agreements should be made through a dialogue with your employer.

There is currently no documentation that pregnant women are at special risk of infection with novel coronavirus. However, the Danish Health Authority regards pregnant women as a risk group, based on a principle of caution. This is based on knowledge that pregnant women are generally more susceptible to infections that give upper respiratory infections, like the flu. Pregnant women should be treated the same as those from other risk groups throughout the entire pregnancy, also in working situations.

You can read more in the Danish Health Authority’s note “Håndtering af COVID-19: Ansatte I Sundheds- og ældresektoren, der tilhører særlige risikogrupper”. (In Danish) 

5. I work in a critical function and have been asked to come to work, and I have a relative/loved one who belongs to a risk group - what should I do?

As an employee in the healthcare, eldercare or social sectors you are often in contact with many people, and can therefore be worried about whether you bring infection home with you, especially if you have a spouse, child or other loved one you are in daily contact with and belong to a risk group. 

The Danish Health Authority doesn’t automatically recommend that you be sent home from work, even though you have a loved one who belongs to a risk group. This also applies if you work in the healthcare or eldercare sector or other sectors where you can be in close physical contact with other people. We do, however, have the following advice:

  • Remember hand hygiene and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly when you come home from work.If there is a chance that you have secretions on your clothing, we recommend that you change your clothes as soon as you come home, before you greet your loved ones. 
  • Be particularly aware of symptoms, isolate yourself if you feel sick, and avoid contact with people in risk groups. Remember that the risk of infecting someone is very small if you don’t have symptoms
  • Be extra aware of hygiene at home and make sure that your loved ones are also careful with hand hygiene.

6. How should close contact with relatives of patients with COVID-19 be handled, as well as personnel who have participated in the care of a patient with COVID-19?

These cases are described in the Danish Health Authority’s note “Håndtering af COVID-19: Rådgivning vedrørende nære kontakter.” (in Danish).

If you have questions regarding how to handle those with confirmed or suspected infection, what to do if personnel or citizens develop symptoms, about personal protection equipment and treatment of patients with COVID-19, etc., you can contact the Danish Patient Safety Authority’s hotline at 70 20 02 66. Note that this hotline is only for personnel in the healthcare, eldercare or social fields who are calling for advice related to work.

7. I work as front line personnel, not in the healthcare, eldercare or social sectors - like police - how should I conduct myself?

Front line personnel are encouraged to follow the recommendations as described in the section “The Danish Health Authority’s general advice” It is also recommended, with regards to contact with people with symptoms where COVID-19 could be suspected:

  • That conversations are held at a distance (if possible over 2 metres)
  • That contact is avoided as much as possible, including direct physical contact (i.e. handshakes), face-to-face contact within 2 metres distance for more than 15 minutes and contact with bodily excretions, i.e. saliva or faeces.
  • That people are placed at a distance from each other, i.e. in single rooms or behind room dividers, and only visited by necessary personnel.
  • That people are encouraged to sneeze or cough into disposable tissues or into their elbow.

If it’s not possible to avoid close contact with a person with symptoms, for instance if the person requires assistance or has to be restrained, you should wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. During the subsequent 14 days, you should pay particular attention to whether you develop symptoms. If you do, follow the advice that generally applies to those with respiratory symptoms, as described above.

You can read more in the Danish Health Authority’s note “Håndtering af COVID-19: Information til politi og andet frontpersonale uden for sundhedssektoren” (in Danish).

Travel

1. I have plans to travel - are there special precautions I should take?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against unnecessary travel to all countries, and encourages all Danes travelling to come home as soon as possible.

COVID-19 is found in many countries all over the world. Several countries have special rules for travellers from other countries, which can make it difficult to travel to and within the country, and you can risk being stranded and have a difficult time returning to Denmark again.

Always check The Danish Foreign Ministry’s website before you decide to travel.

2. I have returned from a trip - are there special precautions I should take?

When you return from foreign travel, it is strongly recommended that you stay home for 14 days. There aren’t special rules for your family if you have returned from travel, but it is recommended that you stay home, just like the rest of the population.

If you don’t have symptoms or feel sick upon your return, you should follow our general advice for the population. During your transport home from the airport, etc. you should follow the general guidelines for how to conduct yourself in public. See the section on “The Danish Health Authority’s general advice for the Danish population”.

If you do have symptoms that could be COVID-19 upon your return, or if you believe you have been infected, you should conduct yourself like all others with symptoms. Read more in the section “I’ve become ill – what should I do?” During your transport home from the airport, etc. you should take your own car if possible and avoid public transport.

Read more in the Danish Health Authority’s folder “Gode råd om ny coronavirus til dig, der har været ude og rejse” (in Danish).

Employees in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors, who employers deem to have critical functions can contact their employer with regards to agreeing on the terms for returning to work, including whether the employee should be offered an evaluation for infection with novel coronavirus, after which a concrete, individual evaluation can be made as to whether their employee can return to work immediately after returning home.

Other questions

1. Should I use a mask while travelling?

No, we do not recommend wearing mouth or face masks as there is nothing to suggest that using these masks have any effect on virus transmission when used by healthy individuals conducting usual activities in public.

If everybody uses a mask in situations where it has no effect, we risk ending up with a shortage of masks in places where they are important, specifically in the healthcare and eldercare sectors.

We recommend that you follow our general advice to the public, which you can read in the section “The Danish Health Authority’s general advice to the Danish population”.

2. I am an employer - are there any special precautions I should take concerning my employees?

On 11 March 2020, our Prime Minister announced that all unnecessary activity in places where many people are gathered is to be shut down for 14 days starting Friday, 13 March. This includes a recommendation that all workers in non-critical functions be sent home during this period, with, for example, assignments to be done at home.

As an employer, you should support the Danish Health Authority’s general advice to the population. You should inform about and provide easy access to good hygiene, having special focus on cleaning and sending employees home if they show signs of illness. Read more in the Danish Health Authority’s “Gode råd om ny coronavirus til dig, der er arbejdsgiver eller personaleleder” (in Danish).

Employees who have been in close contact with a person med a confirmed case of COVID-19 should:

People who have been in close contact with those who are infected are:

  • People with direct physical contact (like a handshake, for example) with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • People with close contact face-to-face within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes, like a conversation with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or in being within two seats in all directions in an airplane
  • People who have been in a closed environment, like a meeting room, for more than 15 minutes with less than 2 metres distance from someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Healthcare workers and others who have participated in the care of a patient with COVID-19, without the use of personal protective equipment as prescribed

These recommendations apply at a heightened level for employers in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors. Read more below in the section for workers and leaders in these sectors.

If you are a shop owner in the retail branch, we have created material and posters you can hang up, as well as information and good advice for employees, which you can find in English and Danish here. 

3. Which doctor's appointments, operations, etc. are being cancelled?

In order to prepare our healthcare system for the increase in pressure that we expect to come with the spreading of COVID-19 in Denmark, there is a need to free up capacity at our hospitals. This can mean that planned visits may be cancelled or postponed, if they are evaluated to be non-critical. This applies until the end of June 2020, so far.

There are also other measures that affect activity in our health care system. This can mean that doctor’s appointments, operations, etc. may be cancelled or postponed. If you have questions about cancellations, contact your place of treatment.

There are, however, many activities that we recommend proceed as planned. This includes treatment of acute or newly developed diseases or injuries, acute operations, psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, rehabilitation at special hospitals, etc.

Appointments with your doctor can also be affected if your doctor reorganizes their work in order to reduce the risk of spreading infection through doctor visits as much as possible. It may be that follow up consultations are done over the telephone.

Children’s and pregnant women's check-ups, child vaccinations and pertussis vaccination of pregnant women should also proceed as planned.

These measures are described in the Danish Health Authority’s notes “Notat om reduction af hospitalsaktivitet ifm. COVID-19” and “Håndtering af COVID-19: Beskrivelse af kritiske funktioner i sundhedsvæsenet”.(Both are in Danish).

Hotline

For general advice about COVID-19, call the hotline of The Danish Health Authority on tel. 72 22 74 59.

 

If you need advice regarding a specific case of illness, e.g. symptoms experienced by yourself or a family member, you should contact a doctor.

 

Recommendations for travel can be found on the website of The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 

Doctors who wish to consult with a colleague on a specific case should contact the local department of infectious diseases or Statens Serum Institut.


Opdateret 28 MAR 2020