At least 17 suspected Omicron Covid-19 cases after Oslo Christmas party

At least 17 people who came down with Covid-19 after a Christmas party gathering of over 100 guests in Oslo last week are suspected of having the Omicron variant, city officials said on Friday.

Pictured is Aker Brygge in Norway.
The outbreak occurred following a dinner in Aker Brygge, pictured above. Photo by Nick Night on Unsplash

The number is likely to grow as sequencing is carried out on other positive tests from party-goers.

“So far 60 people have tested positive (for Covid) with PCR tests, and four with antigen tests,” the city of Oslo said in a statement.

“Seventeen are probably Omicron, but that has yet to be confirmed. So far, one case is confirmed to be Omicron after sequencing,” it said.

Between 100 and 120 people — all of whom were vaccinated, including one who had recently travelled to southern Africa — had gathered last Friday for a Christmas party organised by their employer.

“All of them had been vaccinated, none of them had symptoms and they had all done self-tests” before attending the dinner, city health official Tine Ravlo told AFP.

“Everything was done in line with regulations and no rules were broken,” she said.

All of those who have tested positive have so far only had mild symptoms, such as headaches, sore throats and coughs, Ravlo said.

The Omicron suspicions arose after screening was conducted on some of the tests, which have not all been fully analysed through sequencing yet.

That means the number of confirmed cases could grow. Further results were expected sometime Friday.

On Thursday, after fears of the suspected cluster emerged, the Norwegian government announced a slew of restrictions in greater Oslo which entered into force at midnight.

Face masks are mandatory in public transport, shopping centres, shops and taxis when social distancing is not possible. People will have to work from home if possible and the number allowed to gather at private indoor events will be limited to 100.

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Norway unlikely to offer fourth Covid vaccine dose to under 45s 

Those under 45 with no underlying conditions probably won’t be offered a fourth Covid vaccine dose this autumn, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) said Friday. 

Norway unlikely to offer fourth Covid vaccine dose to under 45s 

Health authorities are unlikely to offer under 45s a fourth Covid jab this autumn, broadcaster TV2 writes. 

“As it looks now, no more doses will be recommended for healthy people under the age of 45, but we are continuously assessing this based on the knowledge we have about the epidemic and the vaccine,” Preben Aavitsland, Chief Physician at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), told TV2. 

Newswire NTB were informed on Wednesday that health chiefs would make an official recommendation for the coming autumn and winter towards the end of summer. 

In a letter sent to municipalities earlier this month, the NIPH wrote that the most likely outcome was that local authorities would be asked to other a refresher dose to over 65s and those in vulnerable groups.

Aavitsland told TV2 that in the long run, it was possible the oldest would be offered an annual vaccine. However, this would depend on how long the pandemic endured and the spread of new variants, the chief physician, added.