IMMEDIATE ACTIONS IN RESPONSE TO MINK-VARIANT SARS-COV-2 VIRUS IN DENMARK

You will be aware from media reports that a variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus has led to a number of outbreaks of COVID-19 in Mink farms in Denmark. There has been some limited overspill of the virus variant into local communities in Denmark. As a precaution the Danish Government has ordered a widespread cull of Mink across Denmark.

The UK Government has announced a full travel ban on visitors from Denmark arriving in to all UK airports and ports. This ban took effect from 04:00 am on Saturday 7 November 2020. Anyone who has arrived back from Denmark into any part of the UK – including Northern Ireland – must self-isolate for 14 days, all members of their household must now also self-isolate. There are no exemptions to this legal requirement.

Officials from UK Government and Northern Ireland are continuing to discuss the situation with their counterparts in Ireland. The Chief Medical Officers and their teams in both jurisdictions also continue to liaise as the situation evolves.

As a precautionary measure we are writing to advise that HSC Trusts, Primary Care and the Test Trace and Protect Contact Tracing service should now implement the following actions –

  • A full travel history must be obtained for all individuals presenting to health and social care services with immediate effect;
  • All individuals who have a travel history from Denmark in the past 14 days and who present to health services must be tested for COVID-19, they should be tested through Pillar 1 testing arrangements – that is through HSC Trust laboratory services and not through Pillar 2 arrangements;
  • Should such individuals present to primary care or out-of-hours services. arrangements should be made through the local Trust for testing through Pillar 1 – see Annexe A overleaf for contacts to arrange in each HSC Trust;
  •  Any individual with a travel history from Denmark in the preceding 14 days who requires emergency assessment or admission to hospital should be managed in strict isolation, that is in a single room with en-suite bathroom facilities;
  •  Standard COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn;
  •  These patients should not be cohorted with other COVID-19 patients;
  • These patients should be tested on admission and every 5 days while in hospital, standard PCR assays used in Denmark detected these individuals, current PCR assays in use should continue to be used for testing;
  • If they test positive such patients will be managed in the regional infectious diseases unit in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast HSC Trust, they may then require transfer to a High Consequence Infectious Diseases Unit for further management;
  • Respiratory specimens for these patients must be prioritised by laboratory services and if positive must be subject to whole genome sequencing, these specimens should be appropriately labelled and flagged to ensure that they are prioritised through laboratory systems;
  • Any individual with a travel history from Denmark in the previous14 days should have routine non-urgent outpatient, ambulatory or primary care, or planned elective care deferred until 14 days have passed since their return from Denmark to Northern Ireland.

Contact Details to Arrange Testing through Pillar 1

Via Royal Hospital Switchboard and ask for Patient Flow
Tel No – 07795 842425

Via Ulster Hospital Switchboard and ask for Clinical Service Manager On-Call, Tel No – 028 9048 4511

Email [email protected]
Via Antrim Area Hospital Switchboard and ask for Microbiologist On-Call Tel No – 028 9442 4000

Assistant Director Cancer and Clinical Services Tel No – 07920 875602

Northern Sector – via Altnagelvin Hospital Switchboard and ask for Senior Manager On-Call, Tel No – 028 7134 5171

Southern Sector – via South-West Area Hospital Switchboard and ask for Senior Manager On-Call, Tel No – 028 66382000