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Questions and answers on novel coronavirus

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

Updated 2 April at 12.35 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 14 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 14 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. 

Freezing does 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 About COVID-19 tests" below.

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. About COVID-19 testing

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. If you show any signs of illness, you should conduct yourself as if you are indeed infected.

Naturally, people would like to know if they have COVID-19 if they become ill. We must, however, prioritise 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. Operating the equipment ties up resources, but professionals are also needed to perform the test, analyse the samples and call people to inform them of the test result.

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.

Learn more under "Special information for the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors", if you are an employer or employee in the healthcare, eldercare or social sectors.  

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?"

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 healthcare 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 – Status ved indgangen til 5. Epidemiuge" (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 healthcare system by transferring personnel, skills and equipment, etc. as well as prioritizing our healthcare 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 healthcare system
  • Communication to both citizens and employees in the healthcare and eldercare sector

You can read more about our strategic considerations in "COVID-19 – Status ved indgangen til 5. Epidemiuge" (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 infection in the Danish population?

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).  

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 healthcare 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 more under the section "Special risk groups")

Children, adolescents 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 (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, and follow the general advice if you do develop symptoms. 

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 (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?" in this section.

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?" in this section.

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?" in this section.

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?

It takes between 2 and 14 days from the time you become infected until the symptoms appear. Typical symptoms are:

  • 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:

  • Stay at home until you are well.
    You are considered non-contagious 48 hours after you no longer have any symptoms. Go home immediately if you are at work.
  • Limit contact with other members of your household. 
    Avoid close physical contact such as kissing and hugging, and try to maintain 1-2 metres distance between you. Avoid sleeping in the same bed and spend time in seperate rooms.
  • Avoid 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.
  • 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. Place your used paper tissues in a sealed garbage bag and discard it yourself.
  • Focus on cleaning.
    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. We recommend that you follow our general hand hygiene advice and that you handle household waste as you would normally do, but that you use a garbage bag that can be properly sealed (make sure the bag is on the outside and sealed before you throw it in the bin). Wash towels, bedlinens and underwear at 80°C and other clothes as much as possible at 60°C. And air out thoroughly at least twice a day for 10 minutes.

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 "About COVID-19 tests"

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19, but there are several things you can do 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.
  • A 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 in "When should I contact a doctor?" in this section as well as 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. But better 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 the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors".

Read our pamphlet with advice for those who show signs of being ill in "Til dig der har tegn på sygdom" (in Danish). The pamphlet includes ideas on how best to cope with being isolated during your illness.

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.

Of course, you should still contact your doctor if you have symptoms unrelated to COVID-19. This applies to both physical or mental symptoms, for example, if you feel that your chronic illness is worsening or you have questions about it. The hospital staff and your doctor will continue to treat patients with acute symptoms, patients with cancer or suspected cancer, perform check-ups of patients with chronic diseases, pediatric examinations and vaccines as well as perform a multitude of their other regular functions. In case of acute symptoms or if you are injured, please consult a doctor, the out-of-hours medical service in your region or call the emergency telephone number. If you are unsure whether to contact your doctor or not, we recommend that you do so. The doctor will then assess whether you should be seen by a doctor or whether the consultation can take place over the phone or via skype. You can read more in Danish in "Husk at kontakte lægen – hvis du er bekymret og har brug for hjælp".

If you work in the healthcare, eldercare or social sector, Read more about what to do in the section "Special information for 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 the 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.
  • Follow this link to see how you can become a volunteer in the Danish Red Cross corona support network.
  • 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 in “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 the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors”.

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

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 Psykiatrifonden, 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.

Children may enter the emergency child- and daycare services if they do not show symptoms of having contracted COVID-19. If they do show symptoms, they should be kept at home for up to 48 hours after they no longer have symptoms.

Children whose parents have COVID-19 symptoms can still come, as they will not be coming into contact with particularly vulnerable groups during their time in the daycare facility. However, parents should pay close attention to whether the child develops symptoms and, if so, keep the child at home. Parents with upper respiratory symptoms should not be the ones to drop off or pick up their children.

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

See a map of the Danish regions and their phone numbers (PDF)

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. 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 about pregnant women and newborns”.

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".

Smoking is a risk factor, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that all smokers are at risk. There is evidence to suggest that smokers are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than non-smokers. However, it is too early to say anything definitive about the degree of increased risk, or exactly how much, or for how long you should have been a smoker to be at a higher risk of contracting novel coronavirus.
Quitting smoking is always a benefit to your health, so we recommend that you stop smoking. You can read more about quitting smoking here (in Danish).

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 in a special risk group and work in the healthcare, eldercare or social sector in a critical function, read more in "I belong in a special risk group and work in a critical function - what should I do?” in this section.

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 under "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 “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 the section on "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 below.

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 healthcare 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.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, health visitors will continue visiting you at home after the birth of your child.

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 the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors 

1. How should we handle COVID-19 in the healthcare sector? 

You can read about the handling of COVID-19 in the healthcare sector in the guidelines of the Danish Health Authority (in Danish). If you are a general practitioner, we refer you to the Danish Health Authority's note on the role of the general pracctice in connection with the epidemic with COVID-19 in "Sundhedsstyrelsens notat vedrørende almen praksis rolle i forbindelse med epidemi med COVID-19." (in Danish). ). If you are a doctor in specialist medical practice, we refer you to the Danish Health Authority’s note: “Håndtering af COVID-19: Speciallægepraksis’ rolle under COVID-19 epidemien”

The Danish Health Authority has prepared a note on the responsibilities of staff and employers in the health- and eldercare sectors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Read it in Danish here.

If you work in the healthcare sector, you can see our pamphlet for good advice in Danish in "Gode råd til dig der arbejder i sundhedsvæsenet."

The management at treatment facilities is responsible for informing all staff who have been in high-risk situations with close contact with a patient with COVID-19 without prescribed protective equipment. See Statens Serum Institute’s i< rel="noopener noreferrer"a href="https://hygiejne.ssi.dk/retningslinjer/infektionshygiejniske-retningslinjer-for-covid-19" target="_blank">nfection hygiene guidelines for COVID-19 healthcare professionals. (In Danish).

A description of how to handle close contacts, both relatives and staff, is found in the Danish Health Authority's note "Håndtering af COVID-19: Rådgivning vedrørende nære kontakter" (in Danish).

Healthcare providers must continue with home visits and consultations during the COVID-19 epidemic. See the Danish Health Authority's note "Håndtering af COVID-19: Retningslinje i den kommunale sundhedstjeneste for børn og unge (sundhedsplejen)". In Danish.

A number of additional notes and guidelines have been prepared for staff in the health- and eldercare sectors. See a list on the Danish website.

2. How should be handle COVID-19 in the social services sector?

The prevalence of COVID-19 can cause particular problems in e.g. involuntary placement institutions, temporary accommodations, hostels/shelters and supported residential facilities. Many social workers perform critical functions that must be maintained during the current COVID-19 epidemic.

The National Board of Social Services has information and advice on novel coronavirus in relation to social initiatives for children, adolescents and adults on their website (in Danish).

The Danish Health Authority has drawn up guidelines for the prevention of infection and the use of protective equipment in the care of citizens, especially the elderly, the chronically ill and debilitated citizens. Read them in Danish here.

If you work at a nursing home, you can see our pamphlet with good advice here (in Danish). If you are a physical therapist or occupational therapist in home care, you can see our pamphlet with good advice here (in Danish).

The Danish Health Authority has prepared a note on visits to institutions where vulnerable people in special risk groups reside or stay for extended periods of time, which you can read in Danish here. You can also read more on the Danish Agency for Patient Safety's website

In relation to hygiene and protective equipment, you should follow local guidelines, if such have been prepared. If in doubt, you can contact the infectious hygiene unit for hospitals and the person or organisation responsible for hygiene in hospitals.

Statens Serum Institute has prepared infection hygiene guidelines for handling COVID-19 (in Danish).

The handling of close contacts, both relatives and staff, is described in the Danish Health Authority's note "Håndtering af COVID-19: Rådgivning vedrørende nære kontakter" (in Danish). 

The Danish Health Authority has drawn up guidelines for how the municipalities should handle COVID-19 patients after they have been discharged. Read the publication in Danish ”Håndtering af COVID-19: Personer, der udskrives til egen hjem, hjemmepleje, plejebolig, plejecenter, midlertidig plads, botilbud eller anden kommunal hjælp”.

A number of additional notes and guidelines have been prepared for staff in the health- and eldercare sectors, which you can access on the Danish website here.

3. What can I get counselling as an employee or employer in the healthcare, eldercare or social sectors?

Please call the Danish Patient Safety’s hotline if you have any questions on dealing with infected or suspected infected persons, on what to do if staff or citizens show symptoms of having contracted COVID-19, or on protective measures when dealing with a patient with COVID-19, etc. Please note that the hotline is only for professional personnel in healthcare, eldercare and social services.

If you have any questions relating to how the health authorities' recommendations for novel coronavirus are executed in the social sector, please go to the National Board of Social Services' website or call their hotline.

4. Who should still go to work?

It is recommended that everyone in non-critical functions stay at home – or work from home – until 13 April 2020. However, many employees in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors work in critical functions.

The framework for critical functions in healthcare sector, including hospitals, private health services, prevention services and municipal health services is laid out in the Danish Health Authority’s note Håndtering af COVID-19: Beskrivelse af kritiske funktioner i sundhedsvæsenet under COVID-19 (in Danish). The note also describe measures to minimise the risk of infection while performing critical functions.

The framework for prioritising within the Danish hospitals is described in Notat om reduktion af hospitalsaktivitet i forbindelse med COVID-19 (in Danish).

5. I have symptoms that could be COVID-19 and am employed in a critical function - what should I do?

As an employee in the healthcare, eldercare and social sectors, you have to be particularly vigilant, pay special attention to symptoms, and go home if you develop symptoms that might suggest COVID-19. Employers also have a special obligation to send any employer home who shows signs of having contracted COVID-19.

You can return to work when you have been symptom-free for 48 hours.

Employees - who perform critical functions in the health- or eldercare sector or deal with particularly socially vulnerable people, and who have mild symptoms of COVID-19 - can, by completing an employer declaration form (in Danish) be referred for clinical evaluation and possibly testing at one of the regional COVID-19 evaluation units, with a view to allowing them to return to work as quickly as possible. Instructions on how to fill in the form, on courses of action – including which employees are covered – are included.

Employees who perform critical functions may return to work after they have tested negative for COVID-19, despite having mild upper respiratory symptoms.

Healthy people are generally not offered tests for COVID-19. This also applies to staff in the healthcare and eldercare sectors as well as those who work with socially vulnerable people.

6. I belong in a special risk group and work in a critical function - what should I do?

Many people employed in the healthcare and eldercare sectors belong to a special 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)

7. One of my relatives/loved ones belongs to a special risk group. I work in a critical function and have been asked to come to work - 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. However, we do have the following advice:

  • Pay close attention to 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.

8. Employees in emergency childcare

In order to ensure the emergency care of children, several daycare centres and nurseries remain open. The Danish Health Authority has prepared pamphlets and posters in Danish for nurseries, private and public daycare institutions, and schools with advice on how to prevent the spread of infection:

Children may enter the emergency child- and daycare services if they do not show symptoms of having contracted COVID-19. If they do show symptoms, they should be kept at home for up to 48 hours after they no longer have symptoms.

Children whose parents have COVID-19 symptoms can still come, as they will not be coming into contact with particularly vulnerable groups during their time in the daycare facility. However, parents should pay close attention to whether the child develops symptoms and, if so, keep the child at home. Parents with upper respiratory symptoms should not be the ones to drop off or pick up their children.

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 under “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. I work as front line personnel - e.g. the police force - and not in the healthcare, eldercare or social sectors - how should I conduct myself?

Front line personnel is encouraged to follow the Danish Health Authority’s general 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 next 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 in other sections of this FAQ.
You can read more in the Danish Health Authority’s note "Håndtering af COVID-19: Information til politi og andet frontpersonale udenfor sundhedssektoren". (In Danish)

 

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 starting Friday, 13 March and ending Monday, 13 April. 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:

  • Be informed about COVID-19 and which symptoms they should pay attention to, including fever and/or signs of respiratory tract infection up to 14 days after contact
  • Stay home or go home immediately if they develop symptoms. Read more in the section ”I’ve become ill – what should I do?

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 healthcare 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).

5. Should I be wearing a mouth or a face mask?

No, we do not recommend wearing medical mouth or face masks as there is nothing to suggest that using these masks have any effect on virus transmission when worn by healthy individuals going about their daily business.

If everybody took to wearing masks in situations where they are of no use, we risk ending up with a shortage of masks in places where they are essential – specifically in the healthcare and eldercare sectors.

Furthermore, you have to know how to use a mask correctly. To be effective, it has to cover your mouth and your nose, and you have to dispose of it properly. If you use ordinary, simple paper masks, and do not change the mask frequently, you run the risk of the mask becoming too wet, rendering it ineffective. Wearing a mask may therefore lull you into a false sense of security. We also do not recommend that you attempt to either sow or fabricate your own mask.

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”.

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 02 APR 2020