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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Norway relaxes quarantine rules

State health officials have decided to drop quarantine requirements for travelers entering Norway from midnight Tuesday. They no longer think it’s necessary to send those arriving from abroad to quarantine hotels, nor will quarantine be required for anyone already in Norway but with close contacts testing positive for the Corona virus.

This hotel adjacent to Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen has been among those used as a quarantine hotel for people arriving from abroad who don’t live in Norway. Now hotel quarantine won’t be necessary. PHOTO: Nordic Choice

The changes come after a new evaluation from public health institute FHI. It noted that travelers lacking documentation of vaccination or earlier Corona virus illness account for only 7 percent of all registered travelers. They also account for just 4 percent of those testing positive at the border.

“I agree with FHI that the numbers of infected arrivals without a Corona certificate are now so few … that it’s time to change the demand for quarantine,” said Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol.

Quarantine eased within Norway, too
A huge increase in the numbers of Norwegians testing positive during the current wave of Omicron infection is also, ironically enough, prompting a change in quarantine rules as well. There suddenly have been thousands of “close contacts” of those infected facing quarantine demands, even though neither they nor those infected risk falling seriously ill. That prompted Kjerkol to lift quarantine requirements for them, too, as of January 26.

“Very many are now sitting in quarantine,” Kjerkol said, adding that the infection situation itself has unleashed a “critical need to adjust” both quarantine rules and testing strategy. Corona testing rules are also being eased.

It means Norway’s 10-day quarantine rule will be replaced, as of Wednesday, with daily testing for five days after the last close contact with infected household members or others. Those unable to distance themselves from those infected and in isolation can also replace quarantine with 11 days of daily testing including six days of the infected person’s isolation period and five days after.

Face masks and caution urged
Health officials continue to urge use of face masks in all indoor public spaces. Anyone who’s been in close contact with someone testing positive is also being urged to avoid any large gatherings for at least 10 days.

Even though Corona infection has been spreading rapidly in Norway again because of the highly contagious Omicron variant, health authorities stress that the risk of becoming seriously ill has fallen dramatically. That’s mostly because the vast majority of Norwegians are fully vaccinated and for them, Omicron illness is usually akin to a common cold or flu.

Of the more than 188,000 new confirmed cases of the virus since January 1, only 253 people are currently hospitalized with Corona-related illness. That, reported newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday, “is very good news.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

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