FHI official: The corona situation in these 10 Norwegian municipalities is of great importance

Preben AavitslandPhoto: Tor Erik Schrøder / NTB
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Before Easter, the infection situation in ten eastern municipalities in particular is of great importance for the development of the pandemic in this country, according to Preben Aavitsland of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI).

The chief physician at the FHI points out that around 80% of corona cases in Norway occur in municipalities with a long-term, widespread epidemic, such as Oslo and other municipalities in central Eastern Norway: Halden, Sarpsborg, Fredrikstad, Moss, Lillestrøm, Lørenskog, Rælingen, Gjerdrum, and Bærum.

“The development in these municipalities is of great importance for the development in the country. We see some positive signs, but the situation is unstable,” he wrote in an email to news bureau NTB.

Aavitsland emphasized that these municipalities must continue the hard work of suppressing the epidemic through testing, infection tracing, and contact-reducing measures.

“Repeated testing of large groups, such as students and school kids, may be relevant. It is absolutely crucial that these municipalities have good infection tracking capacity. If the infection tracking fails, there is a risk of entering a negative spiral where close contacts are not informed,” he said.

Wants to avoid the spread of infection between municipalities at Easter

The FHI official believes that the situation is now characterized by rapid changes and points out that there are significant differences between the municipalities. 

Before Easter and the long weekends of spring, the FHI is concerned with reducing the risk of the spread of infection between municipalities with different infection pressures. 

The spread of infection can occur in several ways, according to Aavitsland: If residents from municipalities with low or moderate infection pressure visit winter sports venues where they meet people from municipalities with a long-term, widespread epidemic, or if they travel directly to such municipalities, such as Oslo.

Another way is if people from municipalities such as Oslo make leisure trips, especially cabin visits, to municipalities with lower infection pressure and meet the local population there. A third way is if students travel from municipalities such as Oslo to home municipalities with low or moderate infection pressure and meet family and friends.

“We are now looking at several measures that can reduce these risks. We will return with new advice later this week,” said Aavitsland.

On Tuesday, Minister of Health Bent Høie (H) will hold a press conference on the corona situation. Both the FHI and the Norwegian Directorate of Health will also participate in the press conference. It is not known if this is where the FHI’s new advice will be announced.

Nakstad sees a flattening infection trend

“We’ve seen a slightly flattening national infection trend in recent days, with just under 1,000 newly infected every day. Oslo, for example, no longer has an equally steep infection curve,” Assistant Health Director Espen Nakstad wrote to NTB.

Oslo, which last Tuesday set an infection record with 495 cases in the previous 24 hours, has in the last two days registered fewer than 300 infected. On Sunday, 207 people were registered infected. Nakstad emphasized that there is a big difference between the municipalities:

“Asker, Bærum, Ullensaker, Sarpsborg, and Fredrikstad are examples of municipalities that have had an increase in recent days. Many other municipalities in Viken have a flattening that we hope will be followed by a real decline,” Nakstad wrote.

Testing of young people

The Norwegian Directorate of Health now mostly monitors whether the municipalities are able to test and detect infection in younger age groups so that the infection pressure is reduced in schools and kindergartens.

“It makes it easier to teach without having to quarantine many children,” according to Nakstad.

The number of inpatients in hospitals has increased in line with infection rates and now accounts for over 80% of the highest level a year ago. On Monday, there were 266 COVID patients in the hospitals. At most, in the spring of 2020, 325 corona patients were admitted.

“In intensive care units, occupancy is about 60% of what it was at the highest last year, but the numbers are increasing day by day.”

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

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