Norway announces it has 'brought coronavirus under control'

Norway announces it has ‘brought coronavirus under control’ after rate of new infections plummets

  • Norway has confirmed 5,760 cases of coronavirus and 74 deaths from the virus
  • Health minister said rate of infection had plummeted following lockdown 
  • Country has now brought coronavirus under control, he announced Monday 
  • It comes after Sweden, Norway’s neighbour which resisted calls for a lockdown, reported a record rise in deaths to a total of 477 

Norway says that its coronavirus outbreak is ‘under control’ after a dramatic fall in the rate at which new people have become infected. 

Health Minister Bent Hoie said the number of people that each carrier of the disease infects – thought to be around 2.5 without lockdown measures – has fallen to 0.7.

Anything under 1 means the disease has effectively stopped circulating and will start to die off.

Norway has got the virus under control by testing 101,986 people per million in its population – compared to 18,996 per million in the UK – allowing it to quickly identify and quarantine those with mild symptoms and the people they have come into contact with.

The country also banned sports and cultural events and closed all educational institutions to bring the rate of transfer down. 

Norway’s government has announced lockdown measures have brought coronavirus under control, with the rate of infection plummeting (pictured, journalists practice social distancing during a press conference at parliament)

Mr Hoie told reporters that scrapping the lockdown measures had been the country’s goal when it enacted them on March 12.

The country’s director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Camilla Stoltenberg, urged caution as there is still uncertainty over the accuracy of the reproduction rate.

But, she conceded, the data has shown a ‘positive development’ in recent weeks. 

The government is due to decide on Wednesday whether to extend restrictions – which include the closures of schools and nurseries – beyond April 12.

Norway has confirmed 5,760 cases of coronavirus and 74 deaths from the disease.

The number of new daily infections has been falling consistently since April 2, and while death figures have fluctuated, they have remained low. 

Norway managed the success by rapidly scaling up testing in the country’s 20 labs from the moment the first infection was identified on February 26.

The large scale testing meant it was able to also test those with mild symptoms and quarantine them and those they had come into contact with, stopping the virus in its tracks.

‘Since the outbreak started, there has been a massive expansion of testing capacity,’ Didrik Vesterheim, senior consultant at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, told the Telegraph.

”We are one of the countries that has tested the highest percentage of our population and the assumption would be that the more you test, the more mild cases you will have among the confirmed cases and (this) will impact the estimation of the mortality.’

The country has also kept restaurants open, although asked people to sit a metre apart at them, along with many businesses and shops. Anyone flying in was also quarantined for two weeks.

Bars were closed across the country, along with public swimming pools, gyms, hairdressers and massage and tattoo parlours.

Open-air jogs were still allowed and most shops and businesses remained open. 

The efforts have halted the virus but, according to Professor Arnoldo Frigessi, at the University of Oslo’s Centre for Global Health, that’s ‘just put the brake on the epidemic, not stopped it’. His words were reported by The Local.

Germany’s lockdown measures, which have involved closing schools and mass testing, have also been praised across Europe.

The country stopped short of telling citizens to remain at home, but banned gatherings of more than two people. It also closed restaurants, hair salons and gyms.

Authorities have conducted more than 50,000 tests a day to get ahead of the virus, reports the Financial Times, and has conducted at least 918,460 tests since the outbreak began. 

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg enacted tough restrictions in Norway to halt coronavirus transmission

It comes as Norway’s Scandinavian neighbour Sweden announced a sudden spike in deaths on Monday, bringing the country’s total from 401 to 477.

The number of confirmed cases in Sweden also rose from 6,830 to 7,206.

Unlike most European nations, Sweden has refrained from bringing in a full lockdown and has instead asked people to act ‘like adults’ and take sensible precautions themselves. 

The country has face mounting criticism for its relaxed approach.

Thousands of doctors and academics including the head of the Nobel foundation have signed a petition urging tougher action, while one scientist accused Sweden of playing ‘Russian roulette with the Swedish population’ as cases gradually rise. 

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at the weekend that while some restrictions – such as school closures – may be eased soon, others could continue well into the summer.

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