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COVID-19

Norway scraps social distancing rules at home for fully vaccinated people

Social distancing rules in Norway for fully vaccinated people visiting homes and hosting visitors will be shelved, the government announced on Wednesday.

Norway scraps social distancing rules at home for fully vaccinated people
Norway's former capital, Bergen. Photo by ZHANG Shaoqi on Unsplash
 
The announcement about the easing of social distancing rules indoors was made by Norway’s health minister, Bent Høie, at a government press conference. 
 
As of Wednesday, 28th April, fully vaccinated people can:
 
• Have close social contact, defined as being within 1-meter proximity, with other vaccinated people, even those in risk groups. 
• Have close social contact with unvaccinated people who are not in risk groups. This means those who have both vaccines can hug and be in close contact with visiting friends and relatives, for example.
• Still maintain social distancing from those who are not yet vaccinated and belong to risk groups. 
 
 
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health is advising people to maintain social distance until a week after receiving their second jab. 
 
“We are advising that you save your hug with your grandchildren until one week after the second dose,” director at the NIPH Line Vold said. 
 
The health minister, Høie, also clarified that social distancing will still have to be observed in public places.
 
“Since those vaccinated can still be infected and infect others, there will be no relaxation of the rules in public,” he said. 
 
“When you are out, you don’t know if there are those who are unvaccinated and in risk groups,” the health minister added.
 
Fully vaccinated people are also encouraged to stick to the national recommendation of only entertaining five guests at home. 
 
Furthermore, those who have received vaccines will still have to self-isolate if they have been in contact with somebody infected with Covid-19.
 
In addition to this, vaccinated people will not be exempt from entering quarantine hotels if they return from “unnecessary” trips abroad.  Those who go abroad for trips classed as “necessary” such as for family emergencies are exempt from hotel quarantine.
 
While 1.5 million people in Norway have received a first vaccine jab, only 310,000 people are fully vaccinated. 
 
Vaccine certificates were also on the agenda at the press conference. Certificates will begin to be issued next week. However, the certificates that will be distributed will not be the complete certificate; these will be launched alongside the EU’s coronavirus passports in June. 
 
Despite launching the certificates next week, the government still hasn’t outlined exactly how they will be used.
 
Denmark has already begun to issue its own “corona passes”. 

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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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