Influensa sweeps through the country

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Thousands of Norwegians have been starting off the New Year sick with a flu virus that health authorities report has now hit all counties from north to south. Oslo and Akershus have the highest numbers of cases, but many are ill in Trøndelag, too.

The inland counties of Hedmark and Oppland are also reporting “very many” cases of influenza, according to news bureau NTB, with so many people sick that they’ve been admitted to hospital. State health authorities reported on Thursday that the outbreak is building up to be the biggest for many years.

“The situation is very demanding,” said Cecilia Tomter of Sykehuset Innlandet, which is in charge of hospitals in such cites as Lillehammer and Gjøvik. Tomter is in charge of hygiene and preventing the spread of infection, and she told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the hospitals have now asked the public to think twice before visiting any patients admitted to hospital.

“We have many patients sick with influenza now, many of them are in isolation,” Tomter told NRK. The flu has also infected many hospital employees, forcing them out on sick leave and putting heavy demands on staff who are still healthy.

Cases of people seriously ill with flu started appearing before the Christmas holidays and expanded greatly through New Year. Health authorities now think the outbreak has topped out, but several hospitals are admitting new patients sick with the flu every day.

At the hospital in Gjøvik, administrators have decided to postpone other scheduled examinations and consultations in order to take care of those acutely ill and minimize the risk of infecting others. “Some of our outpatient clinics have reduced activity, so their doctors can help handle the flu outbreak,” Tomter told NRK.

Note to subscribers: The undersigned is among those who have fallen ill. Apologies for reduced story production this week.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund