Norway ‘Could Have Controlled Infection Without Lockdown’: Health Chief

Calls for country to avoid such unscientifc measures in the future

The head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health believes Norway could have brought the coronavirus pandemic under control without a lockdown, and called for the country to avoid such far-reaching measures if hit by a second wave.

Camille Stoltenberg, the agency’s Director General, told state broadcaster NRK that the agency’s analysis now suggested less restrictive measures would have been sufficient.

Our assessment now….is that we could possibly have achieved the same effects and avoided some of the unfortunate impacts by not locking down, but by instead keeping open but with infection control measures,” she said.

The institute reported at the start of this month that the reproduction number had already fallen to as low as 1.1 even before the lockdown was announced on March 12.

This suggests that it would not have required heavy-handed measures such as school closures to bring it below 1 and so push the number of infected people in the country into a gradual decline.

“The scientific backing was not good enough,” Stoltenberg said of the decision to close down schools and kindergartens, a policy her agency had not recommend even at the time it was instituted in March. 

She recommended that if the country is hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections after the summer, it should avoid such heavy handed measures, unless levels of infection are much higher than experienced in March and April.

“I think it will take a lot. And there is a strong willingness on the part of all parties to find instruments that are more gentle and more flexible,” she said. “What is needed is a commitment from the entire population to follow the infection prevention advice.”

The agency warned in a new report on Wednesday that there was a still a risk of a second wave of infection in the autumn.

“If we manage to lift the most restrictive measures without the spread of infection growing over the summer, behavioural changes and weather changes from the autumn onwards could still cause the balance to shift so that the infection again increases,” it said.

Stotenberg is the sister of Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of the Nato defence alliance, and Norway’s former prime minister. 

Source: The Local


Infection Rates in Norway Too Low to Justify Broad Testing

Norway’s health agency has abandoned plans to test broadly for coronavirus after judging that the spread of infection in the country is now so low that doing so would be pointless.

Instead, tests will be reserved for those who have symptoms of coronavirus, those who work in healthcare or elderly care homes, and those in risk groups.

If 12,000 random people were tested in Norway today, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health estimated in a press release issued on Monday, 15 would test positive, of which only one would have a real coronavirus infection.

“In such a situation, health professionals should not rely on a positive result until they have taken a new test to confirm it,” Joakim Øverbø, a doctor at the institute, said in a statement.

The institute made an exception for elderly care homes, where it has decided staff and patients can be tested whether they exhibit symptoms or not. This is because residents often display fewer typical symptoms, are less able to communicate how they feel, and are at a much higher risk from the virus.

“In such situations, health care professionals should test everyone associated with the unit at a care home where the infection has been detected. If the test answer is negative and you still suspect covid-19, you should take a new test,” he says.

In its press release, the agency also explained that test results can remain positive for weeks after a person ceases to be contagious, as the standard PCR test did not distinguish between viral debris and an infectious virus.

Source: The Local

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