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Why experts in Norway aren’t worried about the Delta Covid variant being dominant

Despite the Delta coronavirus variant being dominant in Norway, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is not too worried about the impact on the Covid epidemic in the country. Here's why. 

Why experts in Norway aren't worried about the Delta Covid variant being dominant
The NIPH doesn't expect the Delta variant to have a big impact on the epidemic in Norway. Photo by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash

new report from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) assessing the risk of the Delta Covid variant, first identified in India, has outlined that it expects Delta to have a limited impact on the epidemic in Norway in the short term. 

Last week the Delta variant officially became the dominant coronavirus variant in Norway. 

In the report, the health institute outlined that the risk that the Delta variant poses to escalating the Covid-19 epidemic in Norway in the next two months is “small”. 

The health institute said that although cases will inevitably rise, the consequences of this will be minimal.

“There may be an increase in the number of infected, but the institute considers that the number of serious cases of illness will remain low and with relatively small consequences”, the risk assessment outlined. 

Coronavirus cases are expected to rise to around two or three thousand a week between August and September, compared to the current figure of just over 1,400 infections last week, as a result of Delta becoming dominant.

Case numbers of two to three thousand a week would be a similar infection situation to the one during early to mid-may, according to NIPH figures. However, the institute also added that Norway was unlikely to see any more large waves of infection as a result of the Delta variant becoming dominant.

READ ALSO: European health authorities warn of surge in Delta variant infections

Preben Aavitsland, chief physician at the NIPH, said in the report that despite the Delta variant being more contagious than other Covid mutations he expects the epidemic in the country to be kept under control. 

This is despite the Delta variant escalating the epidemic in other countries where it has become dominant. 

The reason for this is the progress Norway has made in its vaccination program. Almost 80 percent of people aged over 18 have received a vaccine, and nearly 40 percent of people in Norway are fully vaccinated.

“In many places, this leads to an increasing epidemic, but countries with good vaccination coverage still seem to be doing well with a small or moderate increase in hospital admissions or deaths,” Aavitsland said. 

Aavitsland did add that residents and health authorities should remain vigilant even though the risk in the short term may be low. 

“The good vaccination coverage in Norway indicates that we can still keep the Covid-19 epidemic under control in this country, but we must be vigilant because the Delta variant provides a certain degree of uncertainty in the future,” Aavitsland said. 

The report didn’t specify what the updated risk assessment of the Delta variant would mean for the government’s reopening strategy. 

Earlier in July, the government postponed the final phase of its strategy to lift coronavirus measures due to concerns over the spread of the Delta variant. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

All Covid travel rules for Norway have been completely lifted for a while now- but what happens if you test positive or start to develop Covid symptoms while you are here?

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

Covid travel rules in Norway have been lifted for a while, and all but a few recommendations remain domestically. This is a far cry from a similar time last year when Norway had very strict travel rules in place. 

Testing

Close contacts of Covid infected are not required to get a test, meaning if you have been in contact with somebody with Covid-19, you will not be required to get tested under the official rules. 

However, if you wish to take a test, you can buy self-tests at supermarkets and pharmacies. You can also order Covid-19 tests from Norwegian municipalities if you want a PCR test. You can find the contact information for every municipality in Norway here. Facemasks are also widely available in shops and pharmacies. 

Several private providers, such as Volvat and Dr Dropin, offer antigen and PCR tests with results within 24 hours. However, municipality tests can take longer to deliver results. If you need a test to travel home, you will not be able to get one from a local authority. These tests are only for those with symptoms of Covid-19.  

Home tests will not cost more than 60 kroner from supermarkets, while a municipality test will be free. However, private providers’ tests are pricier, costing between 1,000 and 1,500 kroner at most private clinics.

Isolation

There are also no specific rules in regards to isolation. 

“If you have respiratory symptoms, you should stay at home until you feel well. If you feel well, you can live as normal,” Helsenorge advises on its websiteMeaning that if you are asymptomatic, you aren’t advised to isolate. 

Other symptoms which you may need to isolate with include headache and blocked nose and influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and feeling unwell. 

The isolation information means you will need to liaise with the hotel or accommodation you are staying at. 

Travellers are advised to check what their insurance covers before taking out a policy to avoid being left out of pocket if they have to pay for new flights or an extended stay because they are isolating. 

If you test positive, you are also advised to steer clear of those in risk groups. 

Self-isolation advice applies regardless of vaccination status or previous infection. 

What else should I know? 

If your symptoms get worse, the best course of practice would be to contact a standard GP.

You can also contact the out-of-hours urgent care number on 116 117. This will put you through to the nearest urgent care centre to you. Visitors can also call for an ambulance on 113, but this is only advisable in life-threatening situations, such as a stroke or cardiac arrest.

In addition to checking your insurance policy, you also will need to check the rules of the country you are returning to or travelling through in case you may need a test to enter. 

If you have an EHIC card and receive medical care after testing positive for Covid-19, you will only be required to pay the same subsidised fees Norwegians do for healthcare. Despite this, European citizens are also advised to take out travel insurance. 

Non-European visitors are entitled to urgent medical care but will need to pay the full cost with no prospect of reimbursement if they don’t have health insurance. 

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