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Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Friday with The Local’s short roundup of important news.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Oslo Operahus. Photo by Arvid Malde on Unsplash

70 percent in Norway want to continue working from home

Seven out of ten people have said they want to continue working from home once the pandemic is over, according to a new survey from Norway’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. 

“I’m a little surprised by these numbers because I’ve got the impression that people are starting to get bored,” Labour Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen told state broadcaster NRK

Only five percent of the survey’s 5,000 participants said they wanted to ditch the home office altogether. 

The most popular working from home option for participants was a home office for two days a week, with the rest of the working week spent travelling into work.

Equinor plans for its oil production to continue for decades 

State-owned energy firm Equinor is planning to continue its oil production long-term, as it believes it is unlikely the climate goal set out by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees will be met. 

“We will maintain profitable production from, for example, the Troll and Johan Sverdrup facilities for many decades to come, probably for as long as Equinor and the Ministry for Petroleum and Energy exist,” Equinor’s Chief Economist, Erik Wærness, told newspaper Klassekampen.

READ MORE: Norway taps oil wealth to cushion Covid impact 

He did add that Equinor had committed itself to being climate neutral by 2050.

His comments come after a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) said there is no room to open any new oil or gas fields if the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050 is to be met. 

Union may take even more workers out on strike

Unio, which has taken more than 7,000 public sector employees on strike across Norway, will consider taking even more employees on strike. 

“We will constantly consider taking more on strike,” Steffen Handal, Unios chief negotiator, told news agency NTB. 

Nearly 180 primary and secondary schools across Norway have been affected by the strikes so far, in addition to 35 kindergartens.

Unio took its members on strike after mediation talks over wage settlements broke down in the early hours of Thursday. 

409 new Covid-19 infections in Norway 

On Thursday, 409 coronavirus cases were recorded, 72 fewer cases than the seven-day average of 481. 

This is also a drop of 90 compared to Wednesday. 

In Oslo, 54 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, 11 fewer than the seven-day average. 

READ MORE: How did Covid-19 affect immigration in Norway in 2020 

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 1.0. This means that infections are at a steady level in Norway as for every ten people that are infected, they will, on average, only infect another ten people.

Total number of Covid-19 cases so far. Source: NIPH

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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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