Delta Covid-19 variant likely to delay the final step in Norway's reopening plan
Norway's prime minister and health minister have both admitted that the Delta variant of Covid-19 will probably push back the final step of Norway's reopening plan.
Health Minister Bent Høie has warned that the final step of Norway's four-step plan to reopen the country and lift coronavirus measures will be pushed back due to concerns over the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, which was first identified in India.
The next step of Norway's reopening plan was due to be assessed and potentially announced next week, but now the government will instead focus on making sure Norway doesn't take a step back, rather than moving forward with the reopening plan.
"Next week will mark three weeks since we moved to step three, but with the uncertainty associated with the Delta variant, my priority will be to avoid taking a step back in the reopening plan, rather than taking a step forward," Høie told newspaper VG.
Norway had, so far, taken a step in its exit plan roughly every three weeks. However, Norwegian PM Erna Solberg confessed that the government is concerned about the Delta variant.
"We are a little afraid of the Delta variant, which will present a challenge when we have opened the borders as much as we have now, with plenty of Norwegians now travelling in and out of other countries," she told the paper.
Solberg also told the newspaper that while Norway would assess whether it will be suitable to take the final step, it's essential to put the infection situation above any set dates when lifting measures.
"It is important that we place infection control considerations first," she said.
Neither the prime minister or health minister would offer any hints as to when the reopening could be delayed until.
If you'd like a reminder of what measures will be lifted at each stage of Norway's four-step plan, click here.
The Director and Chief Executive of the Norwegian Directorate of Health, Bjørn Guldvog, echoed the views of the PM and health minister and said that it might be necessary to consider postponing step four of the reopening plan.
"Data comes before dates. Any outbreaks will be difficult for municipalities to handle this summer," Guldvog told VG.
"It would be the right thing to do to assess whether introducing step four can be postponed somewhat," Guldvog added.