Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Friday with The Local’s short roundup of important news.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Trondheim harbour. Photo by Simon Williams on Unsplash

Government proposes extra 1.5 billion kroner for hospitals in revised budget

The government has said it will compensate hospitals with an extra 1.5 billion kroner of funding as part of a revised national budget.

The funding will cover the loss of activity-based income.

The third wave of Covid-19 in Norway led to more hospital admissions than anticipated, which in turn led to lower revenues for hospitals, The Ministry of Health has said.

The ministry said that hospitals in the south-east, which saw the highest levels of infections and hospital admissions during the third wave, would received the largest proportion of compensation.

The revised budget will be presented on May 11th.

Hospitals will also receive 175 million kroner funding for IVF. 

The funding has been set aside to compensate couples for sperm and egg donation.

Norwegian Health authorities to assess whether children should be vaccinated

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is considering whether it should vaccinate children. As it stands, only people over the age of 18 in Norway are offered a vaccine.

The NIPH will make a decision by June.

The main reason why children are not currently considered for vaccination in Norway is because they are highly unlikely to be exposed to serious illness as a result of Covid-19.

READ MORE: ‘We must think ahead’: Norway mulls plan to vaccinate children 

“The purpose of vaccination is primarily to protect people against serious illness,” Preben Aavitsland, chief doctor at the NIPH, said.

Large outbreak of Covid-19 after high school party

A total of 84 russ students have been infected with Covid-19 following a party in Rogland, Western Norway.

In addition to this, six close contacts have also contracted coronavirus following the party,

Russ is considered a rite of passage for students in Norway and is a period between the end of April and May 17th where final year high school students party and celebrate for four weeks before taking their final exams. They travel around in special party buses.

Previously, the NIPH had considered letting russ students skip the vaccine queue.

READ MORE: Could final year high school students in Norway be given earlier Covid-19 vaccines?

Coronavirus pandemic has led to increased loneliness

Covid-19 has led to an increase in loneliness, according to a report from Statistics Norway.

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 just seven percent of people were suffering from loneliness. 

The increase from 2012 to 2020 is particularly pronounced among people under 35.

The statistics agency say the pandemic is a reason for increased loneliness in 2020.

Statistics Norway also believe that loneliness is even more widespread in 2021 than it was in 2020.  

506 new registered cases of Coronavirus in Norway

On Thursday 506 new coronavirus infections were registered, this is a sharp increase of 113 on the 7-day average of 393.

Cases are up by 37 compared to the day before.

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 0.7. This means that the pandemic is receding in Norway as for every ten people that are infected, they will, on average, only infect another seven people.

Total number of Coronavirus cases reported in Norway. Source NIPH

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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.