Denmark: Health Authority Issues New Guidance for COVID-19 Tracing Including Updated Rules for Danish COVID App

(Dec. 23, 2020) On November 24, 2020, Sundhedssyrelsen (the Danish Health Authority) published an updated version of its guides on tracing COVID-19. The guide, COVID-19: Opsporing og håndtering af nære kontakter (COVID-19: Tracking and Managing Close Contacts), is the third version discussing how to trace transmission of COVID-19 in Denmark. The guide contains updated rules regarding what to do when a person is confirmed positive with COVID-19 and when a person is notified via the Danish COVID tracing app of having possibly been in the proximity of a person who has tested positive for the virus. The guide states that when notified via the tracking app of the possible exposure,

one must get a test [for COVID-19] as soon as possible by making an appointment using the [website]. One need only self-isolate if one has symptoms of COVID-19 or if one has otherwise received notice of having been in close contact with an infected person. (Translation by author.)

According to the message received by the contact tracing app, notification through the app is not sufficient to confirm close contact with an infected person, and thus isolation is not necessary unless one is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Persons who have tested positive must follow the rules summarized in an informational brochure published by the Danish Health Authority. The brochure also recommends that those who have downloaded the COVID-19 tracing app enter the information regarding their positive test result in the app.


The Danish Health Authority first launched the Smittestop (literally, Stop the Spread of Infection) contact tracing app in June 2020, recommending that all persons present in Denmark download the app. The app uses Bluetooth technology to send messages to other cellphones in close proximity. The information is then stored locally on the phone. The Danish Health Authority has also published updated information on how “close proximity” is calculated and weighted when using the app. For purposes of information stored in the Smittestopp app, close proximity of another person is determined as being within 1 meter (about 3 feet) for 15 minutes. However, following an update on October 27, 2020, the app now registers contact for as short a period as 10 minutes to ensure that close contacts for 15 minutes or longer are registered. The app weights closer contact as a greater risk than contact from a further distance, registering all contacts with a signal strength of 68 dBm or less.

On November 11, 2020, the app was updated to support contact tracing within Europe, meaning that users of the Danish app can now also receive notifications if they have been in the proximity of a person using another European COVID-19 tracing app. The Smittestop app at the same time made available a one-page guide in English on how to use the app.

App Usage

As of November 20, 2020, the app had been downloaded more than 1.8 million times, and more than 20,000 Danes had ordered a COVID-19 test after receiving alerts via the COVID app of possible transmission. Reportedly, 143 tests conducted as a result of an alert turned out positive.

Public Procurement

The contract governing the COVID app was originally scheduled to terminate on December 31, 2020, but has been extended until March 31, 2021. A public procurement of maintenance and service of the app is scheduled to start around December 22, 2020, with a final submission deadline in January 2021.

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