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NORWAY

Norwegian health authority says blood clots ‘unlikely’ over two weeks after AstraZeneca vaccination

Geir Bukholm, director of infection prevention and control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), said in an interview that the authority believes that it is unlikely people will develop suspected rare side effects if two weeks have passed since taking the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19.

Norwegian health authority says blood clots 'unlikely' over two weeks after AstraZeneca vaccination
(Photo by HANNIBAL HANSCHKE / POOL / AFP)

“We think you are out of danger 14 days after vaccination and that after that it is unlikely that anything will happen,” Bukholm told newspaper VG.

“But this is based on the information we have on five patients, so there is quite limited case material”, he added.

He also told the newspaper that no other countries with reported cases of blood clots following the AstraZeneca vaccine had registered them as occurring after more than 14 days.

Five patients have been admitted to Oslo University Hospital (OUS) with a combination of thrombosis, haemorrhaging and low platelet counts after receiving the vaccine. Six cases in total of the reported disease picture have been recorded in Norway.

READ MORE:Norway ‘disagreed’ with EMA conclusion over AstraZeneca vaccine. 

The patients fell ill between three and twelve days after taking the vaccine. On Sunday the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA) received reports that two people died after receiving the vaccine.

A direct link between the vaccine and reports of blood clots has not yet been proven but is being investigated.

Last week the European Medicine Agency concluded that AstraZeneca is safe and effective against Covid-19.  But a group of experts at OUS have found that a strong immune response triggered by the AstraZeneca vaccine caused the blood to clot in three health workers that received the vaccine.

Use of the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently on pause in Norway. A decision on whether to resume its distribution in Norway’s vaccination program is expected later this week.

Around 130,000 people in Norway have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. As such, the six cases of blood clots so far reported gives an incidence of just over 1 case per 20,000 people in Norway of the possible side effect.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

All Covid travel rules for Norway have been completely lifted for a while now- but what happens if you test positive or start to develop Covid symptoms while you are here?

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

Covid travel rules in Norway have been lifted for a while, and all but a few recommendations remain domestically. This is a far cry from a similar time last year when Norway had very strict travel rules in place. 

Testing

Close contacts of Covid infected are not required to get a test, meaning if you have been in contact with somebody with Covid-19, you will not be required to get tested under the official rules. 

However, if you wish to take a test, you can buy self-tests at supermarkets and pharmacies. You can also order Covid-19 tests from Norwegian municipalities if you want a PCR test. You can find the contact information for every municipality in Norway here. Facemasks are also widely available in shops and pharmacies. 

Several private providers, such as Volvat and Dr Dropin, offer antigen and PCR tests with results within 24 hours. However, municipality tests can take longer to deliver results. If you need a test to travel home, you will not be able to get one from a local authority. These tests are only for those with symptoms of Covid-19.  

Home tests will not cost more than 60 kroner from supermarkets, while a municipality test will be free. However, private providers’ tests are pricier, costing between 1,000 and 1,500 kroner at most private clinics.

Isolation

There are also no specific rules in regards to isolation. 

“If you have respiratory symptoms, you should stay at home until you feel well. If you feel well, you can live as normal,” Helsenorge advises on its websiteMeaning that if you are asymptomatic, you aren’t advised to isolate. 

Other symptoms which you may need to isolate with include headache and blocked nose and influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and feeling unwell. 

The isolation information means you will need to liaise with the hotel or accommodation you are staying at. 

Travellers are advised to check what their insurance covers before taking out a policy to avoid being left out of pocket if they have to pay for new flights or an extended stay because they are isolating. 

If you test positive, you are also advised to steer clear of those in risk groups. 

Self-isolation advice applies regardless of vaccination status or previous infection. 

What else should I know? 

If your symptoms get worse, the best course of practice would be to contact a standard GP.

You can also contact the out-of-hours urgent care number on 116 117. This will put you through to the nearest urgent care centre to you. Visitors can also call for an ambulance on 113, but this is only advisable in life-threatening situations, such as a stroke or cardiac arrest.

In addition to checking your insurance policy, you also will need to check the rules of the country you are returning to or travelling through in case you may need a test to enter. 

If you have an EHIC card and receive medical care after testing positive for Covid-19, you will only be required to pay the same subsidised fees Norwegians do for healthcare. Despite this, European citizens are also advised to take out travel insurance. 

Non-European visitors are entitled to urgent medical care but will need to pay the full cost with no prospect of reimbursement if they don’t have health insurance. 

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