Norway to quarantine more travellers as COVID cases rise

Prime Minister Erna SolbergOslo.Prime Minister Erna Solberg.Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway said it would reimpose quarantine measures on travellers from more foreign countries and reiterated its advice that Norwegians should avoid going abroad amid a jump in the number of new coronavirus cases.

Norway diagnosed 357 people with COVID-19 last week, the highest since April, but still well below the record 1,733 cases found in a single week in late March, data from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) showed.

“We’re doing this now so that everyone as soon as possible will be able to live their lives as freely as possible,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.

“All foreign travel is associated with a risk of infection,” Solberg said.

Norway last week put on hold a plan to further reopen society and urged its citizens to refrain from foreign travel.

While not a member of the European Union, Norway belongs to the passport-free Schengen travel zone. It had some of the strictest travel restrictions in Europe in the early phase of the pandemic before gradually lifting them from June.

It will now reimpose 10-day quarantines from Saturday for all travellers from Poland, Malta, Iceland, Cyprus and the Netherlands, as well as the Faroe Islands and some Danish and Swedish regions.

Norway has already reintroduced similar constraints for Spain, France, Switzerland and several others, and has put on hold a plan to permit leisure travel from some non-European countries, which has been banned since March.

The recommendation not to go abroad will remain in place until Oct. 1.

With a population of 5.4 million, Norway had reported a total of 9,750 cases as of Wednesday, with 256 deaths.

Still, hospitalisations have barely risen in recent weeks, FHI director Line Vold said.

“This may be because hospitalisations typically come at a later stage of the illness, and also because there are more young people being infected,” Vold said.

Authorities are also discussing whether to update guidelines on the wearing of face masks in crowded spaces which, for now, is not recommended.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Nora Buli, editing by Gwladys Fouche and Nick Macfie)

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