Ministers land in quarantine

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UPDATED: Just hours after Prime Minister Erna Solberg addressed Parliament on the jump in Corona infection in Norway came news that she now needs to go into quarantine herself. Two of her ministers have also landed in quarantine.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, shown here addressing the nation Sunday evening on the sudden spike in Corona infection in Norway. Now she’s in quarantine herself. PHOTO: Regjeringen.no

Newspaper VG reported Tuesday afternoon that Solberg, who addressed Parliament Tuesday morning and then held a press conference, had to leave the Office of the Prime Minister after one of her state secretaries was confirmed to be infected with the Corona virus. She underwent a Corona test herself and planned to work from home until test results were available.

Alarms rang after one of her closest colleagues, State Secretary Audun Rødningsby of the Liberal Party, tested positive. Government officials were hoping it was a false alarm, since the two haven’t had close contact at the office recently. Their two telephones, though, had been lying close to each other, and Solberg was alerted to the risk of Covid-19 infection by Norway’s new app that traces proximity of everyone close to someone who’s tested positive.

“We can’t be sure that the app warning is tied to Rødningsby’s infection,” another state secretary in the prime minister’s office, Rune Alstadsæter of Solberg’s own Conservative Party, told VG in a text message Tuesday. Solberg took a Corona test to be on the safe side and worked from home until test results came back and they were negative. She’d already, however, had to cancel some appearances on Wednesday.

Solberg herself stressed to news bureau NTB that she had no symptoms. “We’ve gone through all contacts at the office, where we operated with two meters distance from one another,” Solberg told NTB, adding that she and her staff also sit far apart during meetings.

News broke Tuesday that Culture Minister Abid Raja was also in quarantine following infection among some members of his young daughter’s class at school. Education Minister Guri Melby has also been in quarantine following infection at one of her children’s day care center. Both cases indicate how Norway’s current rash of Corona infection now involves lots of children and youth, mostly aged 10 and above.

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund