Norway may give more vaccine doses to hard-hit areas

Norway's public health agency has promised to launch a "totally revised" vaccination strategy within a fortnight, after complaints that remote regions with few cases were getting as many doses as infection hotspots.

Norway may give more vaccine doses to hard-hit areas

“There will eventually be a totally revised vaccine strategy in a couple of weeks,” the National Institute of Public Health’s Infection Control chief Geir Bukholm told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK.

Several municipalities in the Oslo region have called for a new vaccination strategy, which will give areas with higher rates of infection more vaccine doses.

In Oslo, the national coronavirus hotspot, only 3.2 percent of the population have been vaccinated.

Whereas in Norway’s least populated municipality, Utsira, 19.2 percent of the population has been vaccinated, despite the area not having had a single coronavirus case during the pandemic.

The municipalities of Kvitsøy, Modalen and Leka, which have also not had a single case, have vaccinated 8.5, 8.5, and 8.4 percent of the population respectively.

Saliba Andreas Korkunc, a junior health minister, told the Dagsnytt 18 news programme on Friday evening that the institute’s analyses had suggested that concentrating vaccination on the worst-hit areas would result in more deaths.

“They came to the conclusion that if we had done that now, with the relatively few doses that we have, then more people would have died and more people would have gotten serious illness throughout the country,” he said.

So far 221,819 people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus in Norway, with Bukholm saying that it was looking ever more likely that the country could vaccinate the entire population by the summer.

“The optimistic scenario is that we have completedly vaccinated the adult population by July 1st,” he 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