Nine out of 10 Norwegian coronavirus victims had chronic illness

Nine out of 10 Norwegian coronavirus victims had chronic illness
Coronavirus testing in Norway in March. Photo AFP
A review of deaths due to coronavirus in Norway has concluded that 9 out of 10 people who died with the virus during the first 3 months of the epidemic suffered with a chronic illness.

The review was based on registrations of causes of death during the period, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

A total of 236 deaths related to Covid-19 were registered in the Nordic country during March, April and May. In 215 of these cases, the deceased also suffered with a chronic illness.

For the remaining 26 cases – 11 percent – no chronic disease was reported on the death registration.

“Put simply, you can say that for these 215 cases, Covid-19 was the most important factor that caused death,” senior doctor Marianne Sørlie Strøm of NIPH’s cause of death registry (Dødsårsaksregisteret) said in a press statement.

“But you cannot say anything about how much other causes contributed to death,” Strøm noted.

For the 26 other cases, other health conditions may or may not have been present, but “the doctor has in such case assessed that these illnesses did not contribute to the death”, Strøm also said.

According to the review, heart and circulatory diseases were the most commonly-registered type of chronic disease amongst the Covid-19 fatalities.

NIPH also said that 9 of 10 deaths with Covid-19 in Norway were people over the age of 70.

Meanwhile, another review published by the health authority found that excess deaths in Norway between March and May 2020 were similar in number to the corresponding period in 2019, despite the emergence of Covid-19.

A total of 10,217 deaths were registered in Norway during March-May 2020, corresponding to 190 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2019, the figure was 192 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Preliminary figures show that 296 people died of respiratory infections in the period March-May 2020, a total significantly lower than a number of years between 2014–2018.

“It is reasonable to believe that this may be related to the infection control measures during the pandemic,” NIPH’s director of infection Frode Forland, Norway’s state epidemiologist, told NRK.

Forland also told the broadcaster it is likely that influenza infections were greatly reduced when Covid-19 infection control measures were introduced.

Norway has seen 267 deaths from the coronavirus to date.

Neighbouring Denmark has registered 633 deaths with coronavirus since the outbreak of the pandemic. In Denmark, 83 percent of those who have died with Covid-19 had underlying conditions including respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer, according to news wire Ritzau, using figures from the Danish national infectious disease agency SSI.

It is unclear whether the definition used for an underlying disease is identical in the two countries.

READ ALSO: Norway rejects Swedish claim that flu explains lower Covid death rate


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