At a press briefing on Tuesday, the health authority confirmed 7 additional infections to the most recent update published on its website, which states 25 confirmed cases as of Monday evening.
Of the 25 cases confirmed up to Monday evening, 12 of the cases are in the Eastern Norway region, including 5 employees at Oslo University Hospital. Nine of the cases are in Vestland county, two in Agder, one in Rogaland and one in Tromsø.
Six infections which were confirmed on Monday have all been connected to outbreak areas in other countries. The affected individuals have been placed in home quarantine under the care of local health services.
FHI’s director Bjørn Guldvog said on Tuesday that the country must “expect a greater risk of local spread (of the virus) in certain parts of the population” as the situation with the virus in Norway enters a “new phase”.
“We are entering a new phase of the coronavirus outbreak. We must expect a greater risk of local spread in certain parts of the population. We therefore need to work closely with the public on how to manage this,” Guldvog said at Tuesday’s press briefing in comments reported by NRK.
Health authorities may no longer be able to trace all movements of infections and infected people within Norway, the FHI director said.
“We must therefore be prepared for infections in the population that we do not have full knowledge about from the outset,” Guldvog said.
One element of the health service response to cases is to contact people who may have come into close contact with the infection.
“We distinguish between where we know the entire chain of infection and the spread of infection where we do not know the connection,” FHI department director Line Vold said in a statement on the authority's website.
“When we know the chain of infection, there are still opportunities for us to gain control and stop the spread of infection. Provided we know the chain of infection for an individual who has tested positive for coronavirus, we are able to follow up with those who have been in contact with them,” Vold said in Monday's statement.
Guldvog also urged the public not to call emergency number 113 should they be concerned about the virus or if they are experiencing symptoms.
“Many people are calling 113. That’s the emergency number for everyone who is sick in Norway. This can make it difficult for people with acute, threatening illnesses to get through. So we are asking everyone to be careful about using that channel,” Guldvog said.
FHI has set up a coronavirus information line to reduce demand on emergency numbers. The number is 815 55 015.
Guldvog reiterated advice encouraging people to wash their hands, and to stay home if they are feeling ill.
FHI recommends the following everyday precautions to help prevent infection:
- Use paper tissues in front of your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Throw away the tissue and wash your hands afterwards.
- If you do not have a tissue to hand, sneeze or cough into your elbow, rather than into your hand.
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly, particularly when you have been out amongst other people.
- Cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based disinfectant is a good alternative if you are not immediately close to soap and running water.
Norway is not currently in a situation in which more extreme measures are required against the virus, Guldvog said.
Such potential measures include restrictions on large gatherings and transport, closing schools or restricting movement in and out of geographical areas.
“I would like to emphasize that we are not in that situation as per today. We do not have a difficult, ongoing infection situation. That is why we are not implementing these types of measures now, but we are continuously assessing this,” he said.