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New HPSC advice on Covid-19 samples from patients who have been to Denmark

By Mindo - 11th Nov 2020

Covid-19 samples from patients who have arrived in Ireland from Denmark in the previous 14 days should be sent to the National Virus Reference Laboratory, the HPSC has advised. 

In an advisory to healthcare professionals regarding the SARS CoV-2 mutation associated with mink farms in Denmark, Dr John Cuddihy, Interim Director of the HPSC, said the samples should be clearly flagged as being related to travel from Denmark. 

In the letter to clinicians dated 8 November 2020, Dr Cuddihy warned: “Covid-19 infection prevention and control precautions should be strictly adhered to when dealing with those who have returned from Denmark in the previous 14 days”. 

“If such a person is admitted to hospital for any reason they should be isolated (even if they do not have any Covid-19 symptoms) and not cohorted with Covid-19 patients,” added Dr Cuddihy. 

He went on to advise that such patients should be tested on admission to hospital and again on day five. If a positive test is detected public health should be notified by phone immediately. 

Furthermore, such individuals should not “be seeking routine outpatient, ambulatory or primary care, elective treatment while in their 14 days of isolation after return from Denmark”. In addition, all elective and non-urgent treatment should be delayed for these patients. 

All those returning to Ireland from Denmark are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days and clinicians have been advised to maintain “increased awareness” of the possibility of Covid-19 in people returning from Denmark. 

“Clinicians should advise the person to self-isolate and arrange for Covid-19 testing if they have any symptoms suggestive of Covid-19. A low threshold of testing is advised,” said Dr Cuddihy.

Health officials are monitoring international developments in relation to the virus in animals amid concern mutations could affect the efficacy of potential vaccines. 

There are three mink farms here and Ireland has not imported mink from any EU members states since the beginning of 2020. Surveillance of mink farms here is due to commence shortly, said Dr Cuddihy. 

The SARS-CoV-2 viral mutation was identified in minks in five Danish mink farms and in tests from 12 persons living in the surrounding areas in Denmark.  

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