Doctors to strike in five Norwegian cities

The Norwegian Medical Association has confirmed that 23 doctors in Tromsø, Trondheim, Narvik, Bergen and Stavanger will go on strike from Monday next week.

The news comes following last week’s breakdown in talks between the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) and the Norwegian Medical Association (NMA).

READ ALSO: No Norwegian agreement over doctors’ terms as strike awaits

Provisions over on-call working hours are the key stumbling block in the dispute.

The medical association believes that the workload for GPs is too great given that on-call services are added to normal working hours, and with doctors unable to set any limits for how many shifts can be imposed.

The NMA has warned that the scope of the strike could be increased if an agreement is not reached before October 26th, national broadcaster NRK reports.

Between four or five doctors in municipalities affected by the strikes will be taken off duty, NMA union president Marit Hermansen told NRK.

“We take responsible strike action with major on-call services. These are active on-call doctors who also have full-time regular medical practice. But they will (only) be striking as on-call staff,” Hermansen said.

Given the pressure placed on health services by the Covid-19 pandemic, the union leader said the public would be protected from consequences of the strikes as much as possible.

“We are concerned that this walkout will not impact patients or services in a way that endangers life or health. We don’t want to create difficulty for municipalities dealing with the pandemic. That’s why we have chosen five large city municipalities,” she said.

KS has criticised the strike and said that there was currently no basis for renewed talks between the two sides.

“We regret that the NMA has chosen conflict on an issue on which we should sit around the table with the state to find a solution,” the working environments director for KS Tor Arne Gangsø said to NRK.

Any action that affects emergency wards could endanger life and health, Gangsø said.

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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday 

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Thursday with The Local’s short roundup of important news.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday 
Oslo Operahus. Photo by Arvid Malde on Unsplash

Strikes could affect vulnerable children 

Municipal strikes among teachers and nurses could impact vulnerable children, the children’s ombudsmen has said. 

“I am concerned about the overall consequences that the strike and the pandemic may have on children and young people. The students bear a disproportionately large part of the burden, which increases each passing day,” Inga Bejer Engh, children’s ombud, told press agency NTB. 

Municipal workers have been on strike since last week when mediation talks between union Unio and municipalities over wage settlements broke down. 

Cases of Delta Covid variant detected in Trondheim

There have been 11 potential cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19, which is believed to have originated in India, in Trondheim, Central Norway. 

“We have done a partial genome sequencing and have identified 11 cases of the Indian variant in Trondheim. We are 99 percent sure that it is the Indian variant we are dealing with,” Chief Physician at St Olav’s Hospital told local news site Nidaros.

According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, there have been 55 cases of the Delta strain detected in Norway. 

On Tuesday, coronavirus measures in Trondheim were tightened for the second time in a week. 

New quarantine hotel rules 

From today, anyone who has received their first coronavirus jab in Norway, at least three weeks before their arrival, and those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the country in the last six months will not be forced into quarantine hotels when they arrive in Norway.

READ MORE: Norway eases Covid hotel quarantine rules

Travellers arriving in Norway who were vaccinated in foreign countries will still have to enter quarantine hotels.

The scheme will be in place until Norway’s full “coronavirus certificate” is released on June 11th.

READ MORE: NEW: Norway to launch full version of digital ‘Covid certificate’ 

Norway to provide poorer countries with 1 million extra Coronavirus vaccines 

Norway has said it will provide an extra one million Covid-19 vaccine doses to low-income countries through the equitable access Covax scheme. 

Led by organisations including UNICEF, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Covax aims to offer equal access to vaccines for all countries. The scheme is primarily funded by wealthy Western countries, with the EU having pledged €500 million as of November 2020.

The Nordic country had previously provided poorer countries with the option to secure 700,000 vaccine doses through the scheme. 

READ MORE: Why Norway turned down the chance to order nearly 700,000 Covid-19 vaccines

353 new Covid-19 cases in Norway 

On Wednesday, 353 new cases of coronavirus were registered in Norway. This is eight cases more than the seven-day average of 345. 

In the capital, Oslo, 128 new Covid cases were registered in the city. Cases have risen sharply in recent days and yesterday’s figures represent an increase of 69 on the seven-day average. 

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 1.0. This means that every ten people that are infected will, on average, only infect another ten people, indicating that the infection level is stable.

Number of reported Covid-19 cases. Source: NIPH