All counties now affected by Corona

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All Norwegian counties from north to south are now reporting confirmed cases of the Corona virus, with the number of people testing positive nationwide hitting 169 during the weekend. As more health care workers themselves are exposed to the virus, authorities are asking everyone who’s been in major areas of infection abroad to remain housebound for 14 days.

The large Sunnaas Hospital dominates the landscape on the west side of the Nesodden peninsula near Oslo. It specializes in rehabilitation, but 39 employees were in isolation after a colleague tested positive to the Corona virus. PHOTO: Wikipedia

Alarms were ringing on Sunday after an employee at the Sunnaas Hospital on Nesodden, the peninsula just across the fjord from Oslo, tested positive to the Corona virus. The employee had been in Berlin last weekend, not a city in which Corona is considered widespread.

He nontheless learned on Friday, three days after he’d been back at work at Sunnaas, that he’d been in a locale where a person was confirmed infected with the virus. He was quickly tested and the result was positive.

That’s led to the quarantine of 39 other employees at Sunnaas, which serves as Norway’s leading rehabilitation center for victims of serious accidents and strokes. Six patients at the hospital were being confined to their own rooms in another effort to reduce the infection risk.

“We have closely charted all the people he has been in contact with, both colleagues and patients,”  Kjersti Bjune, an administrator at Sunnaas, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “Those who have had close contact and don’t have symptoms (39 people) are staying at home in isolation for 14 days.”

Dr Bjørn Guldvog, state health director, is now asking everyone returning from travel in Corona-infected areas abroad to stay home for 14 days. PHOTO: NTNU/Geir Otto Johansen

State health director Dr Bjørn Guldvog announced Saturday evening that all Norwegians who recently have traveled in the Hubei province of China, Iran, South Korea and Northern Italy should stay home in self-imposed isolation for 14 days as well. The Italian regions that on Sunday also are under full quarantine include Lombardia, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and Piemonte, Valle d’Aosta, Liguria, Marche, Trentino-Alto Adige, Venice, Toscana (Tuscany), Umbria and Abruzzo. Many of those areas are popular destinations for Norwegians, many of whom also own homes in the area, work or study there.

“There are many who have just come home (after Norway’s week-long winter holiday periods in late February and early March) from Northern Italy and the alps these days, and we’re asking them to go into home-isolation,” Guldvog said. He also urged them to contact their local health services even if they’re not feeling well, to ask whether they should be tested.

Norwegian authorities are also asking those who have recently been elsewhere in mainland China, in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan to remain home upon arrival. The health authorities’ recommendations are retroactive for 14 days as well, meaning that anyone who’s returned from the most affected areas in Italy and Asia during the past two week should remain in home quarantine.

Nordland no longer immune
The virus, meanwhile, spread to Norway’s vast Nordland County that until Saturday evening had been the last county in Norway to remain uninfected. That changed when two residents of Bodø tested positive after coming home from an “infected area in Europe” that was not more specifically identified. Both were exhibiting “mild to moderate” symptoms of the virus and were staying home in isolation.

Of the 147 Corona cases in Norway as of Saturday, 89 stemmed from recent travel in Italy. Four fell ill after traveling in Austria. It’s important to note that none of those testing positive has fallen seriously ill.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet, FHI) is offering updated information on the outbreak of the Corona virus in Norway, which can be found here (external link to FHI’s website). The website has been overwhelmed at times by unusually heavy traffic, but the special pages set up on FHI’s website (fhi.no) will eventually open.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund