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STATISTICS

Norway saw fewer hospital patients in 2020 despite pandemic

Fewer patients were treated in hospital in 2020 than in 2019, with Covid-19 being the reason for the drop, according to Statistics Norway.

Norway saw fewer hospital patients in 2020 despite pandemic
Illustration photo by Audun Braastad / AFP)

The decline in patients has been largest for those awaiting planned treatments, but the number of people requiring immediate attention also dropped too, according to Statistics Norway figures.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals had to prioritise differently in 2020 as a result of the increased need for intensive care units.

“2020 was a year marked by pandemics and restrictions. In many places hospitals have had to prioritise differently due to the coronavirus, and perhaps particularly as the result of the increased need for intensive care,” the report said.

This has contributed to a decrease in the number of patients in hospitals at all levels of care.

The number of patients with 24-hour stays decreased by 7 percent. The total number of days spent in hospital fell by 11 percent or 380,000 fewer days in a hospital bed in 2020 compared to 2019.

Hospital stays lasting at least 24 hours include both planned and unplanned visits. In 2020 planned visits accounted for 29 percent of all visits, which is a decrease of 16 percent from the previous year, while visits for immediate appointments decreased by 3 percent.

READ ALSO: Norwegian senior medic calls for geographical division of Covid-19 restrictions

The figures show a decline for almost all diagnostic groups, but cancer patients had a smaller decline than other groups.

Planned treatment of various forms of cancer decreased by 8 percent, but acute help for tumours saw an increase of 11 percent.

This reverses a trend of numbers of patients in hospitals increasing year on year. The increases had primarily been driven by patients at outpatient clinics.

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COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

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