The Norwegian Government is introducing national measures to keep the pandemic under control. The most important measure is offering people over the age of 65 a booster dose as soon as possible.
‘The pandemic is not over, but it has entered a new phase. We need to learn to live with COVID-19. We can tolerate a higher infection rate in society because we have vaccines. On the one hand, we need to avoid hospitals becoming overwhelmed and a health service that is overburdened. On the other hand, people must live as normally as possible. We must constantly find the right balance between different measures,’ says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
The infection rate is rising. The health and care service is under pressure, both in the municipalities and in hospitals. The Norwegian Government is therefore introducing national measures to keep the situation in check.
‘People who have received a booster dose are at considerably lower risk of being admitted to hospital. The most important measure now is for people to accept the doses they are offered,’ says Mr Støre.
The Norwegian Government is introducing several new measures. The measures will enter into effect on 1 December, and the recommendations will enter into effect immediately. They will apply for the time being, and are based on advice and recommendations from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
New national measures
We are now introducing two new rules:
- If you live with a person who has COVID-19, you need to quarantine until you have received a negative test result (also applies to corresponding close relations, e.g. romantic partners who do not live together). This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated adults. If you are vaccinated, you can leave quarantine early if you present a negative result from a test, but you are under an obligation to take a new test within 7 days. If you are unvaccinated, you can leave quarantine early if you present a negative result from a test, but are under an obligation to get tested every day for 7 days using a rapid antigen test or every other day using a PCR test. Children who live with a person who has COVID-19 do not have a duty to do this, but it is recommended.
- If you contract COVID-19, you must go into isolation for 5 days, regardless of whether you are vaccinated or not. Until now, the requirement has been 2 days for vaccinated people without any symptoms. You also need to be fever-free for 24 hours before you can leave isolation.
Here are new national recommendations:
- We are also introducing a national recommendation to wear a face covering when you are in contact with the health and care service.
- The Norwegian Government is introducing a national recommendation to wear a face covering on public transport, in taxis, shops, and in shopping centres if it is not possible to keep a distance.
- We are also keeping the recommendation to regularly test students at schools in areas where the infection rate is rising and there is a great burden on the health and care service.
- The Norwegian Government asks that municipalities with a rising infection rate and great burden on the health service consider asking people to work from home to a greater extent.
This is in addition to the measures that the Norwegian Government introduced on Monday 29 November to limit the spread of the Omicron variant.
‘Municipalities with a rising infection rate and increasing burden on the health and care service should also consider the need to introduce their own stricter local measures. Where necessary, the municipalities in a region should coordinate their efforts,’ says Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.
Municipalities will be under an obligation to makes vaccines easily available
The Norwegian Government is now asking municipalities to increase the pace of vaccination. Municipalities must offer vaccinations without the need to book an appointment. It must also be possible to get vaccinated outside regular office hours. Examples of this are drop-in services outside ordinary office hours or vaccination at home.
‘Several municipalities have implemented many good and creative solutions to make it easier for people to get vaccinated. Regulations will soon be adopted to ensure that vaccines are made as easily available as possible. We will also establish a national vaccination hotline that can answer vaccine-related and practical questions in different languages,’ says Ms Kjerkol.
The Norwegian Government has asked the municipalities to offer a booster dose to all people over the age of 45 once all people over the age of 65 have been offered a dose. Everyone who works in the health and care service will also be offered a booster dose.
‘The most important measure today is that all people over the age of 65 will be offered a booster dose as soon as possible. This will considerably reduce the need for invasive measures. Vaccination is the way out of the pandemic,’ states Ms Kjerkol.
The Norwegian Government plans for the entire Norwegian population to receive a booster dose before Easter. This means that municipalities must make plans to administer 400 000 doses per week.
Revised strategy and emergency preparedness plan
The Norwegian Government is revising the current strategy and emergency preparedness plan for handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘This is a strategy that makes provisions for continued good preparedness and room to tighten measures quickly in order to keep the pandemic in check. This means that we need to adapt our everyday lives to developments in the pandemic, ensure that there is capacity in the health service, and protect our economy and workplaces,’ states Mr Støre.
The overarching objective of the strategy now is to keep the pandemic in check, so that the disease burden does not become too large and the capacity of the municipal health service and the hospitals is not overwhelmed. Children and young people should be protected from the impact of measures as much as possible, public services must operate at an appropriate level, and the economy must be protected. The emergency preparedness level will be kept at the current level until next April.