FHI chief Stoltenberg: We should be concerned about the omicron variant

Camilla StoltenbergPhoto: Ali Zare / NTB
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There is reason to be concerned about the new corona variant omicron, FHI director Camilla Stoltenberg says.

“Yes, we need to be concerned. It is the National Institute of Public Health’s job to be concerned in a professional way, all the time, and assess what can happen, and what are the worse scenarios for what can happen,” Stoltenberg told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

So far, we know too little about the virus variant, she noted.

“It seems that it is more contagious, perhaps significantly more contagious. It is uncertain whether it causes serious illness and how the vaccines work against it.”

The FHI believes it is likely that the vaccines also work against this variant.

“We do not know how well (they work against the variant). So far, it does not appear that it (the variant) causes more serious illness,” Stoltenberg added.

Not sure

“We have to see how the variant behaves in countries like Norway,” Stoltenberg noted.

Norway has both a different age composition than many countries in southern Africa and cold winters and seasons for this type of disease, Stoltenberg warned. In addition, the Norwegian population has been vaccinated to a much greater extent.

“We will get more information about how it works in Europe and also Norway quite quickly,” she said.

Measures 

Over the weekend, the health authorities have discussed what the omicron variant means for the infection strategy in Norway and what advice they should give the Ministry of Health.

“We are more open to further measures,” Stoltenberg said.

Decisions on regional and national measures will come “soon.” The government will also receive advice from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the FHI on Monday, Stoltenberg added.

The FHI assumes that the omicron variant may already be in Norway.

“We are pretty sure that it will come soon if it is not here already,” Stoltenberg said.

The new corona variant was first discovered in South Africa and reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 24. It has since spread to several countries, including Europe. Norway and several other countries have introduced entry restrictions from a number of countries in southern Africa.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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