City Council chief Raymond Johansen (AP) in Oslo fears the capital will suffer from imported infection from people who travel abroad at Christmas. Now, he’s asking the Minister of Health to look to China for inspiration.
“Why not do it like China, for example? If you come to Beijing, you will be greeted by “aliens” who have no contact with you at all. Completely isolated. You get to a hotel, you have to be in a room for ten days, and get food through the wall, I almost said. In very many countries that have now succeeded in this, people are subject to incredibly strict regimes,” Johansen told news bureau NTB.
Minister of Health Bent Høie (H), on the other hand, has little faith in a Chinese solution for Norway.
“I think we have a lot to learn from China, but there is also a cultural difference. So what works in China will not necessarily work in Norway,” he said.
Høie believes it is important that the infection measures are proportionate.
“In Norway, you have to go straight to a quarantine hotel if you do not have another suitable place to go into quarantine.
“But forcing everyone who has a suitable place to stay in a hotel… I think a lot of people would find that unreasonable,” he said.
“If you only think about infection, you could have had the strictest measures in place since March, but it would have dramatically affected people’s ability to live good and safe lives, jobs in Norway, and much more,” he pointed out.
Requests mandatory testing
In recent months, Johansen has repeatedly called for the introduction of mandatory testing for people coming from “red” countries to prevent infection.
But the proposal was voted down by the Norwegian parliament (Storting) last week.
“Today, we have voluntary testing. You hear all the time about people who are not testing themselves, who may have been to Asia or somewhere far away.
“They walk right by and do not bother to test themselves. They get on the plane and go inside. There are many who do that,” the City Council chief noted.
Johansen also believes that there is reason to believe that many do not comply with the quarantine rules.
Oslo has been hit hard by the pandemic, and it now has some of the strictest measures in the country.
Among other things, a ban on drinking in all restaurants and pubs is in place. Johansen believes that a stricter testing regime at the border can help to open up Oslo faster.
Dangers of mandatory testing
The Minister of Health says he shares Johansen’s concern about imported infection but believes that mandatory testing at the border is not the way to go.
He says the health authorities’ concern is that if you test yourself at the border and get a negative answer, many will think they are not infected and will not take the quarantine rules seriously.
The National Institute of Public Health (FHI) has previously pointed out that more testing is needed because a test is only a snapshot – you can test negative in the morning and be positive in the evening.
“But we are looking at how to connect testing to quarantine to ensure more compliance with the quarantine. However, Raymond Johansen’s solution will not contribute to that,” Høie added.
Høie says he is worried about a third wave of infection after Christmas when many return after the Christmas holidays.
“But we must not create the impression that it is only imported infection that is a challenge for Norway. By doing so, we would forget that the most significant spread of infection takes place internally between people who live here,” he concluded.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today