FHI chief Camilla Stoltenberg canceled her New Year’s party out of fear of infection

Camilla StoltenbergPhoto: Terje Pedersen / NTB

The coronavirus situation in Norway is so serious that FHI leader Camilla Stoltenberg ended up canceling her own New Year’s party.

The National Institute of Public Health’s (FHI) director Camilla Stoltenberg revealed the information in an interview with news bureau NTB.

She and her husband had invited six guests on New Year’s Eve. While the party was well within the infection control rules at the time, Stoltenberg decided that it was too much.

“We ended up canceling. I was worried about the situation with the increased spread of infection, and also with the total number of people we had met at Christmas,” she said.

Stoltenberg emphasized that she does not want to criticize the choices of others.

“When you have the development of the epidemic so close at all times, and when you see how important it is that you comply with the measures, then it is not just a question of rules and guidelines,” she explained.

Stoltenberg fears the infection is out of control

The infection in Norway is increasing rapidly, and Stoltenberg fears that the coronavirus’s spread may get out of control in the next few weeks.

“If you start counting how many people you met with during Christmas and New Year that you do not usually meet, and how many they have met that they do not usually meet, then the sum of everyone who has been in contact with each other is higher than before during the pandemic,” Stoltenberg noted.

She recalled that several other countries in Europe are experiencing a significant increase in infection. 

According to Stoltenberg, there is every reason to fear that the same thing could happen in Norway.

“Even though we have done well so far compared to other European countries, the epidemic can easily get out of control here as well,” she added.

The virus can become endemic

During Christmas, the vaccination drive started. But there is still a long way to go before enough people are vaccinated to provide protection at the population level. 

Stoltenberg believes that anti-corona measures will be needed for some time to come.

“We believe that vaccination will provide a much better basis for easing restrictions over time. 

“But for the time being, we will also have infection control measures for some time to come. 

“I think it is important that we do not give false hope to people about how quickly the measures can be eased,” she said.

It is also not certain that the coronavirus can be eliminated. On the contrary, the World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that it is likely to be endemic. 

That means that SARS-CoV-2 will never completely disappear but continue to return, perhaps in waves.

“We are used to living with other viruses that cause serious illness and death every year, such as the flu. 

“So it will not be completely different than that. It is conceivable that one will then have to develop variants of the coronavirus vaccines, depending on which variants of the virus dominate and circulate,” Stoltenberg said.

Looking forward to partying

Stoltenberg believes that the basic infection control guidelines will last the longest, such as keeping one’s distance, handwashing, and staying home if one has symptoms. 

The same applies to the testing and the rules on isolation in the event of illness, and quarantine in the event of close contacts with the infected.

In addition, there may be restrictions on large events. Stoltenberg is not sure if it will be possible to arrange large festivals this summer.

“But of course, we want it to be possible to have concerts and festivals this summer,” she said.

Stoltenberg added that she is looking forward to hugging the people she loves and having a party when the crisis is over.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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