Norwegian senior medic calls for geographical division of Covid-19 restrictions

The chief physician with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has suggested Norway split its plan to lift coronavirus restrictions into two geographical regions. Three quarters of new infections are currently being registered in Oslo and Viken county.

Norwegian senior medic calls for geographical division of Covid-19 restrictions
Photo by Michael Fousert on Unsplash

NIPH’s senior medical consultant Preben Aavitsland said that a significant regional difference in infection incidences supported a two-track plan for reopening society.

“In a way, we see a division of the country. About three-quarters of the epidemic takes place in 20 municipalities from Sarpsborg to Oslo and the neighbouring municipalities and then down to Drammen,” Aavitsland told news agency NTB.

Restrictions should not be lifted in these areas as they make up the bulk of infections and hospitalisations, he argued.

“Since the country is so divided, it is possible that reopening should take place at two speeds. In some municipalities in Viken a number of measures have been eased, but there is probably no room for new relief in Oslo and Viken,” he said.

But restrictions should be eased in other parts of the country where infection numbers are low, he said.

“In the rest of the country there should be room to try (lifting restrictions). For example, it is hardly necessary to keep Nordlysbadet in Alta closed because there is a lot of infection at Holmlia in Oslo,” he said.

Monday saw 288 Coronavirus patients in Norwegian hospitals. 250 of them are in the southeast, 28 in West Norway, nine in central Norway and one in the north.

READ MORE: ‘People have been good’: Norway health chief sees no major increase in Covid-19 infections over Easter 

Aavitsland emphasized that the situation with the virus in the rest of the country is calm compared to the south east.

“There are only a couple of hundred cases per day, very few hospitalisations, and the vaccination program is going well. Local outbreaks are constantly occurring, but these are handled well by the municipalities themselves,” he said.

The key factor for the epidemic going forward is how it is managed at its in Oslo, the senior medical advisor told the news agency.

“Here the vaccination program is now going at a rapid pace, the measures are strict, and the infection tracing is going well.

“The most important measure (locally) is intensive infection tracking so that you find everyone who is infected and stop the outbreak,” he said.

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.