Public skepticism to Corona containment measures suddenly seems to be rising in Norway, especially now in Oslo, and officials at both the state and local levels are worried. The skepticism and resistance come after many months of cooperation and the spirit of what’s known as dugnad, in which everyone contributes to the common good.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend how officials in the City of Oslo are noting a disturbing trend in social media over the past few weeks. “The biggest challenge lies in the increase of those who totally oppose Corona containment measures, and view them as propaganda from the authorities,” states a report from social media monitors to top city politicians. “We’d seen very few of such comments earlier, but they turned up in several posts last week.”
Ole Morten Knudsen, a communications adviser for the city, concedes that there’s always been “discussion” around measures aimed at limiting the spread of virus infection. He told Aftenposten, though, that Norway was mostly spared from contentions that infection control isn’t necessary and that Corona isn’t any worse than ordinary flu, until now.
The rising skepticism helps explain why Oslo Mayor Raymond Johansen of the Labour Party was reluctant early last week to follow state health authorities’ recommendation to furthern tighten anti-infection measures when infection levels in Oslo soared. Johansen also publicly confronted Health Minister Bent Høie of the Conservative Party, who threatened to override Johansen if Oslo didn’t sharpen regulations, but eventually went along with face mask regulations.
The report to city officials warned that the gap between Corona skeptics and those following the regulations was widening. Many Norwegians, like others around the world, are simply weary of all the social distancing and other regulations. The report also warned that many now question why deaths have remained relatively low even though infection levels have risen, and some claim Vitamin D is the best cure for Corona.
“This still isn’t a big problem, but we’re alarmed that more people are equating Corona with the flu,” Knudsen said. Medical experts note that younger Norwegians aged 20-29 now account for most of the new infection, don’t get as sick and sometimes don’t even have symptoms. They remain contagious, though, and can in turn infect grandparents and others who are far more vulnerable, and can die.