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Oslo hospital to break coronavirus quarantine rules to fight staff shortage

The Local Norway
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Oslo hospital to break coronavirus quarantine rules to fight staff shortage
15 employees from the hospital's paediatrics unit were quarantined after a child patient tested positive for coronavirus on March 5th. Photo: Oslo University Hospital

Oslo's biggest hospital has warned it expects soon to have to break coronavirus quarantine rules if it is to continue to treat patients adequately.


Bjørn Atle Bjørnbeth, the chief executive of Oslo University Hospital, said in a press release on Sunday, that the high number of staff now stuck at home was making it impossible to staff wards adequately. 
"In some cases, it will be necessary to deviate from the quarantine rules and ask employees who are quarantined but who have no symptoms to come to work anyway," he said.
"The requirement to provide adequate health care and ensure life and health must take precedence over quarantine rules. The alternative is to not be able to provide patients with the health care they need." 
On Sunday, 1,081 of the hospital's 23,000 employees were in quarantine after either travelling abroad or being in close contact with someone infected with the virus, while 14 employees had tested positive. 
Bjørnbeth said that he expected the number of infected and quarantined employees to increase over the coming days and weeks, making it more and more difficult to keep wards running properly. 
"The large number of quarantined staff poses a major challenge for the operation of the hospital and our ability to provide sound health care," he said. 
At the same time, travel restrictions were making it impossible to hire temporary staff from other countries. 
"This means that we have to solve the challenges internally and redeploy personnel to other tasks," he said. 
Bjørnbeth said that that the hospital had the option to make exceptions to quarantine requirements. 
"We... must in each case consider how we should best manage to maintain a functioning health service and have sufficient personnel at work. This is our responsibility."


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