Why rising Covid infections in Norway won’t 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
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.

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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