Several are in hospital. The infection has spread. With the omikron variant, it will be even worse. Therefore, Norway must step on the brake even harder.
Minister of Health Ingvild Kjerkol has announced stronger measures to deal with the corona situation. At 19.00 we will know what measures will be taken.
Here is the reason why Norway must step on the brakes even harder, just five days after the last round of new measures.
The capacity of hospitals is threatened
On Tuesday, 320 corona-infected patients were admitted to hospitals in Norway. There is an increase of 58 patients since Friday.
The number is the highest recorded in the whole year and only five less than the record in the entire pandemic, which was set on 1 April 2020. At that time, 325 were hospitalized.
50 of the patients receive respiratory treatment, and 90 are in the intensive care unit. There are 22 more in the intensive care unit than five days ago.
One of the authorities’ most important goals during the pandemic is to ensure the proper operation of the hospitals.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health already established on 30 November that “the capacity of the health service, both in the municipalities and in the health trusts, is challenged, in some places in the process of being overloaded”. Since then, the number of hospital admissions with covid-19 has increased even more.
The infection has exploded
In the last month, the spread of infection has reached levels that have not been close since the pandemic started in March 2020. Norway and Denmark are the two countries in the Nordic region that have a very strong increase in infection.
In Oslo, the infection pressure is at a completely exceptional level. Even Oslo’s least affected districts are now over 1000 infected per. 100,000 inhabitants. The worst situation is in Søndre Nordstrand, where the infection pressure is 2424.
The infection spread quickly in the schools when they started up without infection control measures this autumn. It still has to do that, but now you can also see widespread spread of infection in all age groups up to 60 years of age.
In the age group 10–19 years, 23 percent of the population in Oslo have been registered infected with covid-19 since the pandemic started in March last year. In some districts, more than 30 percent have been registered infected.
FHI assumes that only about 60 percent of the actual infection is detected. In some parts of Oslo, more than half of the inhabitants aged 10–19 may have been infected with corona.
Think it gets even worse with omikron
The increased spread of infection seen in the last month has almost exclusively happened with the delta variant. FHI believes that the spread of infection will be even worse with the omicron variant, which is already spreading in Norway. They believe omikron will become dominant in Norway by January 2022.
– We expect that the number of infected with this variant will increase rapidly in the coming weeks. This, together with the already increased burden on the health service, means that we now consider the situation to be serious, says crisis manager and department director at NIPH, Line Vold.
Fear wave with disease
Even with delta as the dominant virus variant, Norway has thus experienced a sharp increase in infection. While in October there were a few hundred infected per. Today, we’re talking about 3-4000. With omikron, FHI believes that infection rates could increase even more.
Although 90 per cent of the adult population has been vaccinated, FHI believes that omicron will “cause a wave of significant disease burden”, unless measures are taken to limit this.
– Necessary with stronger measures
FHI believes that the omicron variant will significantly worsen the disease burden from covid-19.
– The variant will probably establish itself in Norway and in a few weeks become dominant. However, there is great uncertainty. It is therefore necessary with stronger measures to maintain control and get an overview, at the same time as you get more knowledge and get more people vaccinated, says crisis manager and department director Line Vold at NIPH.
Vaccine is the solution, but it is slow
Both FHI, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the government have continued to emphasize vaccination as the most important weapon against covid-19.
But the experience is that even though 90 percent of the adult population has been vaccinated, the virus continues to spread. Many fully vaccinated elderly people have become infected and become so ill that they have ended up in hospital.
The vaccines no longer provide as good protection, especially for the elderly. On 5 October, the government therefore decided that everyone over the age of 65 should be offered a third dose, a so-called refresher dose.
The roll-out of this refreshing dose has been slow. This summer, almost 60,000 vaccine shots were given in Oslo each week. Now it is at 20,000. Many other municipalities are doing even worse.
The government has decided that the interval between the 2nd and 3rd dose will be reduced from six to five months also for people who are between 45 and 65 years old. Four of the districts in Oslo have started offering a refreshment dose to residents between the ages of 55 and 64. But in many other places, people in this age group still have to wait a while.
The discovery of the omicron variant has created great uncertainty. Experiences from South Africa and from the great Christmas table eruption in Oslo indicate that omikron is more contagious than the delta variant. It seems that both people who have previously been infected with corona and fully vaccinated can be infected with omicron.
Studies in South Africa suggest that omicron leads to less serious disease. But the figures from there are still uncertain and the experiences will not necessarily be the same in Norway, which among other things has an older population.
The government has said that they are introducing measures now to buy time until we know more about omikron.