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COVID-19

Why rising Covid infections in Norway won’t lead to tougher national restrictions

Despite coronavirus infections rising in Norway over the past two weeks, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) said on Wednesday that it's unlikely that a jump in cases will lead to tougher national restrictions.

Why rising Covid infections in Norway won't lead to tougher national restrictions
Oslo central station. Photo by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash

On Tuesday, Norway recorded its highest number of daily Covid-19 cases since May 26th, and infections have steadily risen for the past two weeks, according to figures from the NIPH

This, according to Preben Aavitsland, chief physician at the NIPH, was to be expected as a result of the Delta Covid-19 variant, first identified in India, becoming dominant in Norway. 

“We expected that the number of infected would increase when the Delta variant took over since it is more contagious. We have seen several sporadic cases in many municipalities and some major outbreaks, such as in Ålesund, Ørsta and Volda,” Aavitsland told national newspaper VG.

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

Weekly Covid-19 infection numbers. Source: NIPH

The majority of those testing positive for coronavirus are unvaccinated young adults, according to Aavistland. 

“It is driven by a lot of social contact at private parties, at restaurants and at home,” he said. 

The spread of Covid being predominantly amongst the unvaccinated in Norway, rather than the elderly and risk groups, which are for the most part vaccinated, mean that the rising Covid cases are less serious than they would have been a few months ago. 

“Almost all elderly and clinically vulnerable people who are particularly vulnerable to severe coronavirus are protected through vaccination. This means that a higher infection rate is now less serious than a few months ago,” Aavitsland told VG.

Aavitsland did warn, however, that infections can’t be allowed to get out of control as the risk of Covid spreading to vulnerable groups still exists. 

“Eventually, the high spread of infection can also affect vulnerable groups, so we want to keep the epidemic under control,” he explained. 

The chief physician has added that it is unlikely that the rising infections will lead to new stricter national covid measures in Norway. Instead, the most effective measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus are already taking place at the local level.

“The most important measures take place at the municipal level: Vaccination, testing and infection detection. But, in addition to this, people still need to follow the advice and stay home in case of symptoms,” he said.

Furthermore, despite the rising infection rates, hospital admissions have remained stable in Norway, and as of Wednesday, just 19 people are in hospital with Covid-19 with just five of those in intensive care. 

This makes it unlikely that the government would clamp down on cases with stricter national measures as hospitalisations are one of the criteria that the Norwegian government and health authorities have assessed previously when deciding whether to implement new rules. 

“We never assess the number of infections alone, but also the number of hospital admissions which is currently stable,” Aavitsland said. 

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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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