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HEALTH

VERDICT: How well did Norway handle the Covid-19 pandemic?

Norway’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic was given an overall positive scorecard in an official commission report published on Tuesday.

covid vaccination
An unrelated illustration photo of Covid-19 vaccination. Norway's Corona Commission has released its final report on the country's response to Covid-19. Photo: Claus Bech / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

The Corona Commission, appointed to scrutinise the response of authorities and health services, on Tuesday published its final report on the country’s management of the pandemic.

The commission concluded that Norway’s response to the pandemic was generally good. The report notes that the Scandinavian country has one of the lowest Covid-19 death rates in Europe and limited the impact of the virus on economic activity.

Several individuals made far greater contributions than could have been expected, it also said.

“In the health service, state administration, municipalities and at several companies, an impressive flexibility and ability to adapt was demonstrated,” the report states.

Some criticism is included in the report. Authorities were not adequately prepared to deal with a pandemic of the magnitude Covid-19 proved to be.

The pandemic caused severe strain on a number of ICU wards at times and doctors’ services in local municipalities were poorly equipped, the report said.

“ICU preparedness at hospitals was not good enough,” the report states.

The commission meanwhile pointed out the vaccination programme as a successful element of the response but said the government should have been quicker to take the step of distributing more vaccines to areas with higher Covid-19 prevalence.

A broad range of areas are covered by the report, including its consequences for children and young people, which were found to be excessive.

Authorities failed to do enough to protect children from some of the effects of restrictions, despite this being a government objective.

“To put it a little simply, we can say that children and young people are worse affected by restrictions than by infections and that there is a difference between what you miss out on over a year when you are 16 compared to when you are 46,” the report states.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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