Norway to decide on extending coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday: minister

Norway to decide on extending coronavirus lockdown on Tuesday: minister
Norwegian health minister Bent Høie answering questions before the coronavirus crisis broke. Photo: Norwegian Health Ministry/Facebook
Norway's health minister has said that his government will on Tuesday decide whether to extend the current coronavirus lockdown, or whether to relax some of the more stringent measures.
“A conclusion on the most powerful measures is not coming today, so probably tomorrow,” Bent Høie told public news service NRK.
 
Høie warned, though, that citizens should not expect schools and kindergartens to necessarily reopen again on Thursday, explaining that some measures might be kept in place for longer: “People must be prepared for stringent measures, even after March 26.” 
 
He also said the severity of how the virus hits hospitals in coming weeks still depended on whether citizens could keep up their efforts.  
 
“We have an unbelievably good motivation to stick to it,” he said, calling on people to continue limiting social activity, washing their hands and coughing into their elbows. 
 
Shortly after Høie's statement, Espen Rostrup Nakstad, Deputy Director General of Norway's Directorate of Health, told NRK that there were early signs that the number of coronavirus cases in the country was starting to stabilise. 
 
“We know that infection rates are relatively stable. This is also well reflected in admissions figures,” he said. “We also see that only four percent of those tested have had a coronavirus infection.” 
 
In recent days, he said, the number of new confirmed cases had risen by between 180 and 200 a day. 
 
Høie's statement came after the city of Oslo on the weekend tightened its regime, forcibly closing bars and restaurants across the city after realising that people were not heeding advice to keep their distance from one another. 
 
“There were 50 places still open, and we realised with concern the danger of infection in some of these places,” Oslo Mayor Raymond Johansen told NRK on Monday. “Because we had given advice and people weren't acting on it, we were forced to take the decision.
 
Shortly after the press conference, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health reported that there had been 240 new cases in the 24 hours up until midnight on Sunday, bringing the total in the country to 2,371. 
 
At 12.15 on Monday, there were 380 patients in hospital with the virus, of whom 38 are in intensive care. 

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