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COVID-19

WHO warns Europe of Covid-19 ‘resurgence’ and urges families to wear face masks at Christmas

The World Health Organization in Europe Wednesday urged families to wear face masks during this year's Christmas family gatherings, as it warned of a "further resurgence" of Covid-19 in early 2021.

WHO warns Europe of Covid-19 'resurgence' and urges families to wear face masks at Christmas
Pedestrians wearing protective face masks check out the window in a store in Paris. Photo: AFP

The UN  agency said people should not underestimate “the importance of your decisions” and encouraged extra precaution for holiday gatherings, even within the family. 

If possible, the WHO said celebrations should be held outdoors and “participants should wear masks and maintain physical distancing.”

For indoor festivities, the WHO said limiting the number of guests and ensuring good ventilation were key to reducing the risk of infection.

“It may feel awkward to wear masks and practise physical distancing when around friends and family, but doing so contributes significantly to ensuring that everyone remains safe and healthy,” the health agency said in a statement.

The plea came as the agency noted that “Covid-19 transmission across the European region remains widespread and intense,” even though some “fragile progress” had been made.

“There is a high risk of further resurgence in the first weeks and months of 2021, and we will need to work together if we are to succeed in preventing it,” WHO Europe said.

The WHO's European Region comprises 53 countries and includes Russia and several countries in Central Asia, a region that has registered more than 22 million cases of the new coronavirus and close to 500,000 deaths.

In the last seven days, nearly 1.7 million new cases have been recorded, as well as more than 34,500 deaths.

As a second wave of the novel coronavirus is sweeping over the continent, many countries have once again introduced tough measures to curb the spread.

On Wednesday, several new measures were imposed, including the closure of non-essential shops in Germany and pubs and restaurants in Britain.

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HEALTH

HEALTH: Six things to know about visiting a doctor in Norway 

Going to the doctor is a necessary part of living overseas, but there are a few things you should be aware of before going for a check-up in Norway. 

HEALTH: Six things to know about visiting a doctor in Norway 

Norway is known for having excellent healthcare, and the medical systems in Scandinavian countries are often held up as examples of what other countries should try and emulate. 

Despite that, it’s not all plain sailing when visiting a doctor in Norway, and there are often some misconceptions people have and some idiosyncrasies with the system that can be a bit jarring for some. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together a run-down of what you should expect when visiting a doctor in Norway. 

You will need to sign up first  

You aren’t assigned a GP or fastlege automatically, so you will need to sign up for a doctor yourself. 

To be eligible for a doctor, you must be living and working in Norway legally. You will be enrolled in the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme if you meet this requirement. Everyone part of this scheme is entitled to healthcare services and a GP by extension

To find a GP, you will need to head to Norway’s digital health portal, helsenorge, and log in. You will need an electronic ID such as Commfides, BankID or Buypass ID to sign in. 

Once signed up, you can select the county you are in and see a list of doctors in your local area. The list will have the doctor’s name, age and gender, and if a substitute is covering them. 

READ MORE: How to register with a doctor in Norway

Visiting a doctor will cost you money

One of the biggest misconceptions about healthcare in Norway is that it’s free. It isn’t. Instead, residents will need to pay for healthcare at the point of service. However these costs are heavily subsidised through the National Insurance Scheme, and there is a relatively low limit on how much individuals have to pay each year. 

A GP appointment will cost 160 kroner during the day and 280 in the evening, a lab test costs 59 kroner, and a consultation with a specialist costs 375 kroner. You can get a full run-down of the fees you can expect to pay during a doctor’s visit here.

Language shouldn’t be an issue 

Norway ranks number 5 out of 112 countries for their English proficiency (English Proficiency Index). This means that you shouldn’t put off seeing a doctor because you’re worried about the language gap. 

Even if you are in more rural parts of the country, you can expect to be able to see a doctor that you can communicate with in English if that would make you feel more comfortable. 

READ ALSO: Does everyone in Norway speak perfect English?

Changing your doctor 

If, for whatever reason, you want to change your doctor, say you don’t gel with them, find it hard to get an appointment or have heard great things about another GP, then you can change your fastlege

The Norwegian GP system allows for decent flexibility, and you can change your doctor up to two times in one calendar year, for whatever reason you wish. 

To make the switch, you’ll need to sign into helsenorge and change your doctor there. 

READ ALSO: How to switch GPs in Norway 

Your medical history isn’t automatically available to doctors

When you change GPs in Norway, you’ll need to ensure your new doctor has access to your medical records. It is your responsibility to do this, and much like signing up for a new GP, this isn’t done automatically. 

Having your medical records sent to your new doctor simply involves contacting your former GP surgery and asking them to forward your record to your current practice. Your medical records also contain information from when something has been followed up, for example, notes from a scan or specialist.  

If you move from another country, then this may mean either filling in the doctor of your medical history or trying to get your medical history forwarded. 

What do The Local’s readers think of the medical system

The Local’s readers have previously shared their thoughts on the country’s healthcare system. Among the positives were competent GPs, excellent quality of treatment, and good quality service. 

Waiting times were the biggest issue cited by readers. Respondents to the survey said they either waited a long time for an appointment or to get a GP. 

READ ALSO: What do foreigners think of the Norwegian healthcare system?

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