Hadeland fears ‘wild’ infection

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The scenic rural community of Gran in Hadeland was under a new Corona alert this week after a local man in his 60s tested positive for Covid-19 after he’d died suddenly on Tuesday. Local officials believe the man, who was highly skeptical of the Corona crisis, had been ill for up to two weeks without seeing a doctor and may have infected others.

Gran in Hadeland is a scenic area located about an hour’s drive north of Oslo. Infection rates there have been low until just recently. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Newspapers Oppland Arbeiderblad and Avisa Oslo identified the man as Hans Kristian Gaarder, described as a “conspiracy theoretician” who as late as March 18 criticized on social media the “massive measures” aimed at preventing infection of “something that will be like a cold or light flu.” He wondered whether the measures really were a means of “camouflaging that the Corona virus does NOT spread from person to person.”

Gaarder, who identified himself as an independent researcher of suppressed information, reminded his followers to remember that the “lying and weak media’s job is to trick its readers into blindly and obediently being led into the mud by lying and weak politicians.”

Autopsy results pending
His death emerged when officials in Gran sent out a press release this week that they’d been informed of a new “Covid-19-related death.” The municipality wrote that the victim “was not tested for the Corona virus before he died, but it’s been confirmed afterwards that he was infected with the virus.” His body has been sent for autopsy to determine actual cause of death.

“This was a sad message to receive and our thoughts go to his family,” wrote Dr Are Løken, chief medical officer for Gran. “It reminds us of how dangerous the virus can be and how important it is that we put up with the strict (anti-infection) measures for a while longer.”

Løken did not identify the man but the press release stressed that he had held two “arrangements” on his property in Gran on March 26 and March 27. “We don’t know how many or who took part in the arrangements, but ask all participants to take a Corona test as soon as possible,” read the release.

Infection trackers ‘meeting opposition’
Løken later told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), which also identified the man as Hans Kristian Gaarder, that the test results showing he was infected with Corona mean he may be a source of  “wild infection” that makes infection tracking very demanding. He said he and his colleagues were struggling to work with a milieu in Corona denial, comprised of people who don’t think the pandemic is real. Løken doesn’t think the milieu is very large but its members can nonetheless come in contact with many others and thus pose a threat.

“Usually, when we’re in dialogue with people who are infected, we get lots of full and correct information (about their contacts),” Løken told NRK. “Here we’re meeting opposition. We’re not receiving the full information we need, and we’ve also been given incorrect information.”

He’s especially worried about those who attended the events held on Gaarder’s property. “We haven’t had contact with everyone who was there,” Løken said. “There’s hardly anyone who will confirm they’ve been to such a gathering,” he added, since such events are currently banned in most of southern Norway including Gran and neighbouring Lunner.

Vaccine skeptics, too
Gran officials also worry that people from areas outside the Hadeland region may have attended the events as well, which is why they’re publicly urging anyone in and out of Gran who was there to get tested.

Gaarder also wrote for a Norwegian website known for reporting on alternative health care and spreading conspiracy theories. Many of its writers and readers are also highly skeptical to vaccines.

NRK reported that it published a notice of Gaarder’s death. It implied that the Norwegian media’s reports on Thursday and Friday that connected his death to Covid-19 were “fake news.” It added that some of his social media followers claim he was “completely healthy” on Monday, the day before he died.

“The man had Covid-19, there’s no doubt about that,” Løken told NRK. “We won’t know whether it was the direct cause of death until we get the autopsy results.”

New confirmed cases
Gran, meanwhile, was facing more confirmed cases of Covid-19 this week including a youngster, and seven more people were put into quarantine. All customers of a KIWI grocery store in the Jaren area of Gran were also asked to be tested after a man in his 20s tested positive on Wednesday. He’d been in the store twice on Tuesday, and those also there between 11-11:30am and 3:30-4pm are considered at risk.

Gran Mayor Randi Eek Thorsen was asking all residents of Gran to be especially careful over the next several days and to take a Corona test at the least sign of any symptoms. She said she understood that many residents were upset and even angry that anyone might ignore Corona symptoms and put others at risk.

“At the same time, I call on everyone to stay calm because there are others affected by this who don’t deserve that we act unprofessionally or let our feelings run over,” Thorsen said. “Now we need to think about one another and take care of one another, and make sure the infection trackers and police can do their jobs.”

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund