Covid-19 infections in Norway surpass 10,000 daily cases for first time

A daily Covid-19 infection total of 11,825 new cases was registered in Norway on Wednesday, the first time the country has recorded more than 10,000 infections in a day.

Pictured is Bergen, west Norway.
Norway recorded its highest every number of daily Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, with the government set to update measures on Thursday. Pictured is Bergen, west Norway. Photo by Error 420 ūüď∑ on Unsplash

The record infection number is also the first time more than 10,000 infections have been registered over a 24-hour period.

The 11,825 recorded cases are over 2,000 more than the previous record of 9,622 set the day before. Over the last seven days, an average of 7,356 infections have been registered per day. The same average a week prior was 4,808, indicating the infection trend in Norway is rising.

As of Wednesday, 264 patients were hospitalised with Covid-19, 13 fewer than the day before. 80 of the patients in hospitals were in intensive care, and of those, 61 were on a ventilator.

In total, 472,355 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Norway since the beginning of the pandemic.

In Wednesday’s updated risk assessment of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) estimated that up to 50,000 daily cases could be recorded during a winter wave of infection.

The report also estimated that there would be fewer than 150 people on a respirator at any one time and fewer than 200 daily hospital admissions. However, the report did stress that these were rough estimates and that some uncertainty around the variant remained.

“We expect a significant wave of infected in the coming weeks and expect that we will reach the peak at the turn of the month,” Camilla Stoltenberg, director of the NIPH, told public broadcaster NRK¬†of the report’s findings.

Despite the record numbers, the government is widely expected to announce some form of relaxation to the current national Covid restrictions at a press conference on Thursday evening. Among the measures touted to be tweaked are a nationwide ban on serving alcohol in bars and restaurants.

READ ALSO: How could Norway’s Covid-19 rules change this week?

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Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said¬†Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an¬†infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur¬†Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more¬†contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters¬†people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously¬†infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able¬†to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being¬†associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating¬†variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and¬†Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned¬†that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead¬†to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that¬†“nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining¬†testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those¬†groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it¬†added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a¬†requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until¬†September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second¬†booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently¬†tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‚Äėentire population‚Äô

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a¬†second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide¬†whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich¬†Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes¬†mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.