UPDATED 12 AUG: Norway has introduced new emergency measures in a bid to halt the progress of a potential second wave. Arrivals from many European countries now face a quarantine period. Here's what you need to know about the outbreak, including the latest facts and figures.
I know a lot of people in Norway will be concerned about the latest coronavirus news, along with people planning a trip. So, here's everything you need to know about the spread of the virus, the COVID-19 outbreak, and how Norway is reacting.
I'm getting a lot of emails from people asking questions, especially since the announcement that some measures will be lifted. I don't have the capacity—or the authority, for that matter—to answer personal questions, so I've put together this page with everything I do know.
Before asking personal questions in the comments, please understand that I don't have any additional information.
I'll do my best to keep this page up-to-date in the days and weeks to come, but do check the various links for the very latest information. You should also check whether you should be in home quarantine, and what exactly that means.
The latest infection numbers in Norway
There are now 9,751 positive cases in Norway at the time of writing, with 256 people now confirmed dead. There are 16 people hospitalised around the country, just 2 of which are in intensive care. As of 11 August, 508,770 people had been tested out of Norway's population of around 5.3 million.
Some European countries seem to be experiencing the beginning of what could be a second wave. There are now fears of a similar trend in Norway. Recent positive test results are on the rise, although they have tended to be localised so far. An outbreak also occurred on a cruise ship docked in Tromsø. More on this later.
Around Norway: All of Norway's counties have recorded at least 100 positive test results. The most are in Oslo (3,143), followed by Viken county (2,763), Vestland (946), Trøndelag (584) and Innlandet (527). So far, Nordland (138), Møre og Romsdal (166) and Troms og Finnmark (301) have recorded the fewest positive test results.
The latest situation in Norway
Health director Bjørn Guldvåg said there are increasing numbers of people in quarantine and an increase in positive test results. This reflects increased activity in the population in recent weeks. Guldvåg says there is a risk and that we are at a “balancing point”.
With that in mind, the latest news of an outbreak among crew and passengers on a Hurtigruten cruise could not have come at a worse time. More than 50 crew and passengers tested positive, many after leaving the ship.
To cut the risk of a second wave developing, the Norwegian government has announced a set of new emergency measures. From August 7, there is to be a ban on alcohol serving after midnight. The use of face masks on public transport is also being considered, with guidance to follow in the days to come.
Finally, it seems that the Norwegian postal service is currently unable to handle deliveries to certain countries, including the USA and Canada. While there is no information on incoming deliveries, I've heard reports of delayed packages. On 3 June I received a package sent from the USA on 15 May, but I've heard about much longer delays from others.
The latest on travel, border & quarantine restrictions
The Norwegian authorities are strongly recommending against all international travel unless absolutely necessary. However, arrivals from many European (EU/EEA/Schengen) countries including the U.K. have been able to visit Norway with no quarantine requirement since July 15. But, there are now a lot of exceptions for countries with high levels of infection.
Anyone arriving from these so-called “red countries” will have to home quarantine for 10 days, essentially ruling out tourism from those countries. From 15 August, the quarantine requirement will also apply to arrivals from:
- Faroe Islands
This is in addition to several regions of Sweden and Denmark, along with the previously announced countries that includes Spain. You can read the full background here, with the very latest list of quarantined countries from FHI here.
On 10 July, the government also confirmed a new exception for those wishing to visit close family members or partners in Norway. This applies to citizens of any country.
However, the border closure remains in place to everyone else with some exceptions for students, and business travel. I know this is frustrating for many people, as I keep getting emails asking when the border will be back open for non-Europeans.
Before writing, please understand that I have no more information other than what is written here. Please don't ask me to guess.
Coronavirus in Norway: The story so far
The first coronavirus case in Norway was registered in a resident of Tromsø on 26 February. The individual had recently returned from China. They were not seriously ill and were placed under home quarantine. Many of the early cases were then recorded in the Oslo region, including six employees of the eye department at Oslo’s Ullevaal Hospital.
Read more: Healthcare in Norway
In the early days of the outbreak in Norway, the majority of people who have tested positive were either infected abroad or are close contacts of someone who was. In most cases, the infected person had returned from an area of Europe with a major outbreak, such as northern Italy.
However, that soon changed and the proportion of infections passed on in Norway or with no known source increased rapidly.
Just a couple of weeks after the first known infection in Norway, the Norwegian government took drastic steps. They introduced the strictest emergency measures ever seen outside of wartime.
Previously, Norway's Directorate of Health said there were plans in place that would cover a scenario whereby up to 25% of Norway's population became infected. In this scenario, other hospital treatment would have to be postponed to enable hundreds of thousands of additional patients to be treated.
On the afternoon of March 27, the Health Minister announced plans to delay hospital treatment for all but essential cases. In addition, he announced that Norway is the first country in the world to trial an experimental treatment on COVID-19 patients.
With the number of cases increasing rapidly, the government introduced emergency measures to try and stem the spread of the virus. All educational establishments were closed, along with many workplaces, many shops, bars, restaurants, pubs and other public services. Supermarkets and pharmacies were among the few businesses to remain open.
Read more: What's Next For Norway's Travel Industry?
While much of Norway's everyday life returned to normal, many companies have retained home office arrangements where practical. However, the travel and hospitality industries, among others, are still feeling the heat. The Norwegian government has announced a series of economic measures to help laid off staff and struggling businesses.
What to do if you experience symptoms
In Norway: Do not call 113. In the first instance, you can call a health information line on 815 55 015. If you believe you are infected, call your GP. Do not visit the doctor's office in person. Only if you cannot contact your GP, call the emergency room (legevakt) at 116 117.
If you have mild symptoms that do not require medical treatment and you do not fall into one of high-risk groups as defined by FHI, you may also register your symptoms using a new online reporting tool. This is not a replacement for a doctor's consultation and is purely a data collection exercise, but it will be used to improve FHI's understanding of the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises those who feel sick and who have recently returned from–or come into contact with someone who has returned from–a trip to one of the high-risk areas to avoid going to the doctor or hospital. You should instead inform the health authorities by telephone and quarantine yourself at home.
The WHO's Dr. Margaret Harris told NRK that most patients do not become seriously ill, but it's possible to pass the virus on to others who can become seriously ill:
Read more: Healthcare in Norway
“People need to stay calm. Don't let people move around. Hand hygiene is very important- It sounds so simple, but it is not so easy to make sure you wash your hands often enough. Do not scratch your eyes or nose. Cover your mouth and nose if you cough.”
Where else is impacted?
The new virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China at the end of December 2019. Since then, the virus has spread around the world. According to figures from the World Health Organization, 20.5 million cases and 746,686 deaths have been reported so far.
The UK and Italy are the hardest-hit countries in Europe, with more than 46,500 and 35,000 deaths respectively. The virus has also taken hold in the USA, where more than 167,500 deaths have been reported. Brazil (103,000) and Mexico (53,500) are also badly hit.
What is coronavirus?
According to the WHO, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people, and there are several known types that have not yet infected humans. The current outbreak concerns COVID-19.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Standard precautions from the WHO include regular hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and thoroughly cooking all meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.