‘Corona epidemic under control’

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Norwegian Health Minister Bent Høie announced at the government’s daily afternoon press conference on Monday that new statistics show a major decline in infection rates, with every Corona-infected Norwegian passing on the virus to only one new person or less. “That means we have the Corona epidemic under control,” Høie said.

Health Minister Bent Høie is so confident that Norway has control over Corona infection in Norway that the state is sending a medical team to the Lombardia region of Italy this week, to help stricken colleagues where Corona patients have overwhelmed local hospitals. Høie is photographed with the Civil Defense coordinator for the mission, which includes more than 20 doctors and nurses. PHOTO: Helse- og omsorgsdepartementet

The new numbers suggest one infected person now infects 0.7 other people in Norway. “Before our strict infection control measures were put into effect, every infected Norwegian was infecting 2.5 other people,” Høie said. “If that development had continued, we would have had the same develop of the epidemic that we see in other parts of Europe.”

If the new calculations hold up, the Corona virus outbreak that has all but paralyzed Norway in recent weeks will stop spreading and hospitalizations will continue to fall as they have over the past week.

‘Solid upper hand’
Høie warned against celebrating too early. The Corona containment measures that forced the closure of schools, colleges, universities, most public buildings, restaurants, bars, hair dressers and many other businesses “have given us a solid upper hand” in the battle against the virus, Høie said. “We need to hang on to that,” he said, claiming that it would not be wise to ease too many of the current restrictions.

Other health officials have said much the same, prompting many Norwegians to assume that they’ll have to live with restrictions on socializing and other aspects of daily work and life for quite a while longer. No official guidelines are expected until later this week.

Dr Camilla Stoltenberg, director of Norway’s public health institute FHI (Folkehelseinstituttet) stressed that there was still some uncertainty tied to the infection calculations and actual numbers of those infected. A total of 5,758 people had tested positive to the virus as of Monday, but testing has only been conducted on people who are sick or in clear risk groups. That number has now surpassed 100,000.

‘Positive development’
Stoltenberg herself thinks the actual number of infected people can be much higher than the current testing shows, perhaps around 14,000, but that number has been reduced from 18,000-20,000 just a week ago. Of all those tested, around 5 percent have tested positive.

Even though uncertainty remains, Stoltenberg stressed that “we view this as a positive development and it shows up in the models.” There’s also been a decline in the numbers of Corona patients needing intensive care.

“But there’s no model that can say anything certain about Corona development,” Stoltenberg said.

“The numbers show that it won’t take much for us to lose control again,” Høie summed up. He stressed that the most important measures are social distancing, frequent hand-washing and good hygiene.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund