The senior official said that due to the more contagious B117 variant, which originated in the United Kingdom, being the most dominant strain of Coronavirus in Norway that it will be more difficult to keep infection numbers down.
“It will be demanding throughout April, and well into May, to be able to lower the infection rates sufficiently with a lasting effect,” Nakstad told news agency NTB.
“We need well under 200 daily cases of infection to be able to start thinking about reopening at all,” he said.
Even slightly higher infection rates would not be sufficient to prevent a new spike on reopening, according the the deputy director of the national health directorate.
“If it is the case that we barely get down to 300-400 cases of infection daily and start to remove a lot of national measures, it is like believing in Santa Claus that it will go well without numbers rising again. It will not happen so we have to go far down to be sure of it, unfortunately,” the health official told newspaper VG.
Nakstad said that the situation is currently uncertain due to a lower number of tests over Easter.
“Before Easter, we were around 200,000 people a week testing themselves in Norway, and at Easter this has been far fewer. And at the same time the percentage of people who have tested positive has gone up, so the test pattern is not normal now, but will certainly become more normal when everyday life is back,” he said.
Norway is, however, on the “right track” towards reduced infection numbers, he added.
“We are on the right track, but the work has only just begun. If the R-number (rate of infection) goes down a lot, that job (getting daily cases below 200) goes pretty fast, but if it is just below 1 then it will take a long time to get down to a lower level of infection,” he said.
The assistant health director has one eye on the latest set of Norwegian Institute of Public Health figures that will arrive later in the week.
“We can be lucky and see that people after all have been good at Easter and not been so much with others, if that is the case we can see a downwards trend in several places,” he said.