Press release | No: 147/21 | Date: 15/11/2021
Increasing number of COVID-19 patients have been admitted to hospital, and the health services around the country are under pressure. The Norwegian Government is therefore introducing a few more national measures to reduce the infection rate, but the different municipalities are the ones who are most familiar with their local situation and are able to introduce targeted measures.
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If we are unable to turn the tide, the health and care services will soon become overburdened. Municipalities with large outbreaks must take action.
‘We are monitoring the situation and take a serious view of the increase in hospital admissions. We believe that the most effective approach is for municipalities with a high infection rate to introduce local infection control measures. The municipalities have shouldered a large responsibility and have shown that they can suppress outbreaks quickly and effectively, and it is important that municipalities in which the infection rate rises rapidly keep up this work’, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
When measures are required in several municipalities within the same larger region, it is important for them to coordinate their efforts. The Ministry of Health and Care Services will consider adopting regional regulations if the municipalities in a region are unable to coordinate their efforts. Central government decisions targeting the local and regional levels may be necessary in situations in which municipalities are too slow to agree on adequate local measures. The Norwegian Government and the specialist agencies are closely monitoring the situation.
‘Nonetheless, we know what it takes to turn the tide. It is important that all people stay home if they are ill, take a test, and go into isolation if they have a confirmed case of COVID-19. Increased vaccination will also play an important part here. I encourage all people who are able to do so to get vaccinated’, says Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.
Duty for unvaccinated close contacts to get tested
In order to limit transmission in society, the Norwegian Government has decided that unvaccinated people over the age of 18 who live with a person who is infected with COVID-19 will have a duty to get tested. This duty will enter into effect on 17 November.
‘If you are unvaccinated and live with a person who tests positive for COVID-19, you will need to take a test every day for 7 days using a self-test or every other day in the same period using a PCR test. The duty to get tested will apply until 7 days have elapsed since the last close contact with the infected person. This is not only a recommendation, but a duty’, states Ms Kjerkol.
If the person who lives with a person with COVID-19 is vaccinated, the recommendation is to take two tests (self-test or PCR test) during the same period. All people under the age of 18 who live with an infected person are recommended to follow the same test regime that applies to unvaccinated people.
If you live with a person who has COVID-19, you should stay home until your first test has returned a negative result.
Unvaccinated healthcare workers should get tested and wear a face covering
There has been much discussion recently of unvaccinated healthcare workers and the risk that they may infect vulnerable patients. The Norwegian Directorate of Health has made recommendations to the municipalities on how to avoid such situations.
‘We will take further steps to protect vulnerable patients from COVID-19.
This is why we want unvaccinated personnel to be tested twice a week, and to be told expressly that they must wear a face covering. The Norwegian Directorate of Health will send the municipalities guidelines on this’, says Ms Kjerkol.
The Norwegian Government wants more targeted testing at schools in order to detect and prevent transmission in areas with a high infection rate and where there is great pressure on the health services.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recently changed the advice on testing at schools in municipalities with a high infection rate.
Greater use of the COVID-19 certificate
The Minister of Health and Care Services will introduce regulations that allow municipalities to decide to implement the COVID-19 certificate locally.
‘Several municipalities and the business sector have expressed a wish to be able to use the COVID-19 certificate to avoid lockdown, a distance requirement, and maximum occupancy rules. We will quickly introduce regulations that allow municipalities to use the COVID-19 certificate to ease local infection control rules’, states Ms Kjerkol.
The Norwegian Government will facilitate domestic use of the COVID-19 certificate without implementing other measures, and is therefore giving notice that it will investigate more extensive use of the COVID-19 certificate nationally.
‘We will consider whether the COVID-19 certificate can be used as a measure to suppress the infection rate, for example at nightspots, concert venues, sports events, cinemas, and theatres. Now that everyone has been offered a vaccine, it is easier to consider using the COVID-19 certificate to prevent large-scale transmission’, says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
If a person receives a positive test for COVID-19, unvaccinated household members over the age of 18 will have a duty to get tested (from 17 November). The testing must either take the form of daily testing for 7 consecutive days using a self-test or every other day for 7 days using a PCR test. (New)
Testing is recommended for the following people:
- All people with new respiratory symptoms or other symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status.
- Unvaccinated household members under the age of 18 of a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. This group is recommended to follow one of the two test regimes that apply to unvaccinated household members over the age of 18. (New)
- Vaccinated household members of a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are recommended to get tested twice in a one-week period. Close contacts within the household are recommended to stay home until the first negative test result has been returned. (New)
- In addition, the Norwegian Directorate of Health will introduce guidelines on 25 November stating that unvaccinated healthcare workers who are in contact with patients must be tested regularly and wear a face covering in specific situations. (New)
- Requirement to go into isolation if you receive a positive COVID-19 test result (a breach is a finable offence).
- Wash your hands often.
- Cough or sneeze into a paper tissue or the crook of your elbow. Dispose of the tissue and wash your hands afterwards
- Stay home and take a test if you develop new respiratory symptoms