Prime Minister can’t shake his cold

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Jens Stoltenberg has felt compelled to carry out his duties as Norway’s prime minister even though he’s been plagued by cold-like symptoms for months. He hasn’t been able to hide them, but seems to refuse to give himself a break.

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Perhaps it’s because Stoltenberg has been on a campaign to lower sick leave within Norway’s labour force, and won’t allow himself to call in sick. Like the proverbial Duracell bunny, he just keeps going and going, traveling, and running the government, even though he sounds like he should be in bed.

It’s been easy to hear in recent radio and TV interviews that Stoltenberg has a cold. One of his aides, Mina Gerhardsen, confirmed to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that “he’s more or less had a cold since Christmas.” 

Gerhardsen won’t comment on whether Stoltenberg has been to the doctor. He was vaccinated against swine flu last year. Gerhardsen said he has spent a few days at home because he just hasn’t felt good.

“But he’s also been active on those days, and available on the phone and via e-mail,” Gerhardsen told DN. Some might say that could be the reason he’s not getting well, because he won’t slow down long enough to recuperate.

He’s pretty much held to his busy program except when he cancelled plans to attend the World Economic Summit in Davos in January. At that point he’d been traveling a lot, including trips to Madrid and India, and then in February he was off to London where he met once again with his Spanish counterpart, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (photo, Stoltenberg on the left).

This week he’s among the hosts for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Things never calm down for a prime minister, and it’s no comfort to remember that the Labour Party has a dubious history of ministers collapsing on the job. 

Views and News staff