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Oslo tightens restrictions at schools and kindergartens as Covid-19 infections rise

Oslo is to introduce new restrictions on schools and kindergartens in an effort to stem increasing Covid-19 infection numbers in the city.

Oslo tightens restrictions at schools and kindergartens as Covid-19 infections rise
Photo: Kamil Tatol on Unsplash

The measures, which will stay in place until Easter, include the closure of indoor leisure activities. Schools will not be closed but more classes will be attended online from home, broadcaster NRK reports.

Executive mayor of Oslo Raymond Johansen called the infection situation in the city “very serious” as he announced the new restrictions.

“The interventions we have made now longer look as though they are effective,” he said.

According to the city council, the spread of the more infectious B117 variant is related to the increase in the prevalence of the virus in Oslo since January, NRK reports.

Infections are increasing in all age groups, including amongst 10-19 year olds.

“I’m asking you to see as few people as possible, have as few visitors at home as possible. Social gatherings indoors should now be avoided completely,” Johansen said.

“We cannot risk having the worst period of the whole pandemic in front of us,” he added.

The measures put forward by the Oslo government are as follows:

  • Red’ level at schools and kindergartens, meaning reinforced infection control measures and smaller groups. To take effect from Thursday.
  • ‘Red’ level to remain in place at upper secondary schools.
  • Youth activity clubs (fritidklubber) remain closed.
  • All indoor leisure activities banned.
  • Maximum outdoor group size of 10 people.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg noted in parliament on Tuesday that around 70 percent of Covid-19 infections in Norway over the last two weeks had occurred in Oslo and neighbouring Viken county.

The leader of the municipal health council, Robert Steen, told NRK that hospital admissions had increased by 450 percent.

Official data shows the city has seen 2,642 cases of the virus in the last two weeks, including 293 in the last daily update.

Local restrictions in the capital were first introduced on November 10th.

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COVID-19

Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death. 

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