Defense minister out of quarantine

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Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen was back in his office on Thursday, after test results proved he’s not infected with the Corona virus. His suspected exposure to the virus at a meeting in Bergen last week had set off concerns within the entire government.

Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen is back on the job after a Corona scare of his own. Norway’s and NATO’s annual “Cold Response” winter military exercises, however, had to be halted after some soldiers tested positive to the virus. PHOTO: Forsvaret/Ole-Sverre Haugli

“I’m glad to be declared healthy,” Bakke-Jensen stated in a press release after he’d had to cancel all new meetings and work from home this week. “It’s important for me to follow the advice of the health authorities and take precautions, to prevent further infection. This is a national effort.”

The defense ministry also noted that several Corona containment measures were in place, including increased used of home offices and reduction of large gatherings.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg had expressed concern over Bakke-Jensen’s possible exposure as well. Her government is busy dealing with the Corona crisis at many levels and it’s important government leaders don’t get sick themselves.

Efforts were already underway to chart the contact Bakke-Jensen had with colleagues and other ministers before he became aware himself of possible exposure to the virus. The government ministers also face important state budget meetings next week.

Solberg, under criticism for allegedly responding too slowly to the Corona threat, was questioned on national radio Thursday morning over whether next week’s budget meetings and even the weekly Council of State with King Harald on Friday should be cancelled. She claimed that “not so many people” will be involved or gathered at either, and she felt assured that the risk of infection was minimal.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund