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HEALTH

Norway to launch ‘most far-reaching measures seen in peacetime’ to slow coronavirus

Norway's health minister has warned that the government will later today announce "the most far-reaching measures Norway's population has ever experienced in peacetime," to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Norway to launch 'most far-reaching measures seen in peacetime' to slow coronavirus
Prime Minister Erna Solberg warned that ways must be found for essential workers to stay at their posts. Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB Scanpix/AFP
The warning came after Denmark moved to close all schools, kindergartens and universities and send all non-essential public sector workers home on paid leave, and follows the diagnosis on Wednesday of the first coronavirus cases which could not be linked to travel abroad. 
 
“The emergency council is now sitting and discussing measures that will be the most extensive Norway's has population experienced in peacetime,” Bent Høie told Norway's state broadcaster NRK on Thursday morning.
 
“We must be prepared for that. Strict and effective measures are necessary to prevent the spread of infection in Norway.” 
 
Prime Minister Erna Solberg said that her government had wanted to choose the right time to instigate the heaviest restrictions.  
 
“We have to push a bigger button, but it must be done at the right time,” she said. “It will intrude on people's everyday lives and on how our society functions. Then we also have to watch the timing. It is this phase that we have now reached.” 
 
The news came after the Norwegian Institute of Public Health on Wednesday evening reported 212 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 489.
 
The VG newspaper, which collates figures from Norway's municipalities, putting it about a day ahead, puts the true number of cases at 631. 
 
Høie said that all the new measures would be aimed at keeping a sufficient distance between people to slow the spread of the infection down, so that the country's hospitals would be better able to cope. 
 
Solberg said that if Norway is to follow Denmark and close schools — as is likely — it needed to also find a way to ensure that employees in “socially critical businesses and the health service” could continue to go to work. 
 
“We also need to make sure that those who are parents can go to work if they work in socially critical sectors,” she said. 
 
 

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HEALTH

Why are more people waiting to be given a GP in Norway?

As many as 116,000 people are waiting to be given a "fastlege", or GP, in Norway. So, why are residents having to wait to be assigned a doctor?

More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork.
More than 116,000 people are waiting to be given a GP in Norway. Pictured is a picture of a stethoscope and some paperwork. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

A recent quarterly report from the Norwegian Directorate of Health has revealed that 116,000 people in Norway are on the waiting list to be given a GP

Furthermore, the number of those without a doctor has grown in recent years, with those in rural and northern parts of the country more likely to be left waiting for a GP. 

The current GP scheme in Norway allows everyone to choose their own doctor, who acts as the patients’ main point of contact with the health service. Your GP is also responsible for your primary medical needs, and you are allowed to change your doctor twice a year. 

READ ALSO: How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Doctors in Norway have warned that a lack of funding and staff is threatening the GP system. 

“The GP scheme is on the verge of collapsing because there are too few doctors,” Bernand Holthe, a GP on the board of the Nordland Medical Association and a member of GP’s association for the area, told public broadcaster NRK

He says that reform in 2012 to the GP system has left doctors with too much work with not enough resources at their disposal. 

“After the collaboration reform in 2012, the GP scheme has been given too many tasks without receiving a corresponding amount of resources,” Holthe said. 

The government has pledged around 450 million in funding for GPs in its state budget for 2022, which Holthe argues isn’t enough to recruit the number of GPs necessary. 

Nils Kristian Klev and Marte Kvittum Tangen who represent the country’s 5,000 or so GPs also said they were disappointed with the level of funding allocated for doctors in the national budget. 

“The Labor Party was clear before the election that they would increase the basic funding in the GP scheme. This is by far the most important measure to ensure stability and recruitment and it is urgent,” the pair told Norwegian newswire NTB.

Patients have been left frustrated, and in a recent survey on healthcare in the country, one reader of The Local expressed their frustration at not having a GP. 

“I moved from Olso to Tromso, and I’m currently without a GP. Helsenorge didn’t think this was an issue and told me to visit a hospital if I needed to see a doctor. How can a municipality have no places for a doctor? Everyone has a right to a local doctor, and I’ve been left with nothing. All I can do is join a waiting list in the hopes a place turns up before I get ill,” Sinead from Tromsø said in the survey. 

Another reader described the fastlege system as “horrible”. 

Key vocabulary

Fastlege– GP 

Legevakt– Emergency room

Sykehus– Hospital 

Helseforsikring– Health insurance

Legekontor- Doctors office

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