Has the coronavirus pandemic in Norway made people lonelier?

Life in Norway as a foreigner can be lonely at times, with family far away and friends sometimes hard to come by and a new survey suggested the pandemic has made things much harder for those alone. Share you own thoughts with The Local's readers.

Has the coronavirus pandemic in Norway made people lonelier?
Research indicates the pandemic has made people in Norway Lonelier. Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels

The report from Statistics Norway found that the fear of infection and less contact with others were two of leading causes of loneliness in 2020.

The figures for 2020, based on the Quality of Life Survey, show that 11 percent of the population aged between 18 and 79 were suffering from loneliness.

In 2012 the corresponding figure for loneliness was just seven percent.

The increase from 2012 to 2020 is particularly pronounced among those under 35 and those who are single.

The report also said that previous research indicates that immigrants in Norway are more likely to be lonely.

Almost 20 percent of immigrants said that they were bothered by loneliness in the statistic agency’s previous research.

READ MORE: Immigrants in Norway more likely to be affected by loneliness

The survey was conducted in March 2020 during the first coronavirus lockdown in Norway

However, Statistics Norway believes that the lockdown is not responsible for the increase in loneliness.

Instead, the stats agency point towards media reports about the infection situation, both in Norway and across the world, may have contributed to increased fear of infection and less social contact.

Increased concern around the pandemic has also created a stronger need for people to seek the support and company of others.

Statistics Norway said it believed that loneliness is more prevalent in 2021 than it was in 2020. 

It pointed to a survey from data collection firm, Opinion, which found that four out of ten Norwegians stated that they felt lonely during March 2021. 

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What are the current rules for Covid-19 self-isolation in Norway?

Norway's government have updated the country's self-isolation rules a few time in recent weeks. The latest changes mean less people will have to quarantine after being identified as a close contact.

Pictured is a house in Drøbak, south-eastern Norway.
These are the rules for self-isolation in Norway. Pictured is a house in Drøbak, south-eastern Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

From Friday, January 14th, Norway’s self-isolation rules will change, and far fewer people will be required to quarantine as a result. 

“In the next few months, many will be infected, and sickness absence will be high. All companies and businesses need to prepare for it. Plans must be made to maintain the most normal operation possible in a demanding situation. The changes the government is now making in the requirements for infection quarantine will contribute to more people being able to live normally, even though there is a lot of infection in society,” Ingvil Kjerkol, health minister, said of the new rules in a government announcement.

Does the Covid variant affect the self-isolation period? 

The quarantine rules and length of time you need to self-isolate for will not change depending on which variant of Covid-19 you contract. 

Who has to quarantine? 

For obvious reasons, those who test positive for Covid-19 will be required to self-isolate. After that, those who share a household with the infected person, including flatmates who share a common kitchen and bathroom, will also need to quarantine themselves.

However, under the new rules, other close contacts will not need to self-isolate after coming into contact with somebody infected with Covid. Instead, they are asked to take tests on day’s 3 and 5 after being identified as a close contact. Furthermore, they will need to watch for symptoms for ten days and begin isolating if any signs or symptoms appear. 

Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes and within two metres of somebody who tests positive for Covid is considered a close contact. 

Close contacts are typically friends, colleagues or classmates. However, contact tracing services will also consider those sitting nearby in restaurants and the like as close contacts. This applies regardless of vaccination status. 

READ ALSO: What are Norway’s Covid rules this Christmas?

How long is the isolation period? 

People who return a positive coronavirus test will need to quarantine themselves for six days starting from when they tested positive. The isolation will be a minimum of six days but will not end until the person has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicine. 

Household members and partners will need to isolate themselves before testing after seven days. 

As mentioned earlier, other close contacts are no longer required to quarantine. 

If the test returns positive, then the quarantine rules will apply for those infected with the virus. 

What are the rules in quarantine? 

You will need to stay at home and only perform necessary errands that others can not do. This means you can’t go to work and you need to avoid public transport. 

You can go for a walk, but you need to distance yourself from others. 

You will also need to social distance at home, stay in a separate room and use a different bathroom if possible. You are also encouraged to frequently clean surfaces that are often touched. 

Is anybody exempt? 

There is no exemption from self-isolating as a household member or close contact if you are vaccinated. However, some groups are exempt. 

Everyone who has had Covid-19 in the previous three months can skip the isolation period. The same goes for those who have received a booster vaccine dose at least a week before coming into contact with someone with Covid. Instead, they will need to test themselves each day with a rapid home test or a PCR test carried out by a health professional every other day for seven days. 

Employees who have essential societal functions are not required to isolate, provided they test negative before starting work throughout the isolation period. 

Close contacts under 18 years of age will not need to isolate but are recommended to test for Covid-19.