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Norway Sees Record COVID-19 Infection Rates Despite Vaccination Progress

© AP Photo / David GoldmanIn this Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 file photo, a droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Providence, R.I.
In this Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 file photo, a droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in Providence, R.I. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.09.2021
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Infection rates three times higher than previously envisaged have already put on hold Norway's reopening plans in order to boost vaccination rates. So far, Norway has managed to fully vaccinate 56.4 percent of its 5.3-million-strong population.
Over the last 24 hours, 1,796 COVID-19 infections have been registered in Norway, which is the highest number since the start of the pandemic, the Norwegian Surveillance System for Communicable Diseases (MSIS) reported on 1 September.
The previous peak was 1,552 new cases and was registered last Friday, 27 August.
Meanwhile, the number of hospitalisations is also rising. On Tuesday, 89 COVID patients were admitted to hospitals across Norway, including respiratory treatment and intensive care units, an increase of ten patients from the day before. The number of inpatients is therefore the highest since 26 May, national broadcaster NRK reported.
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The overview of infection rates for Scandinavia indicates that Norway's seven-day infection rate has risen from 11 to 23.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, putting the country above Finland, Denmark, and Iceland in the space of a single week.
"We have reached one of the highest levels in Northern Europe when it comes to infection per capita in Norway. This is new and is due to the fact that we have had a sharp increase in recent weeks, not least the last week", Assistant Health Director Espen Nakstad said, warning that the adverse situation may grow worse.
He pointed out that the contagious Delta strain is now predominant in the country and that people tend to have more social contact than before in the pandemic. As pointed out by the newspaper Verdens Gang, infection rates are now three times higher than the National Institute of Public Health (FHI) had calculated in its models.
"The big question is how many serious cases of disease we get when the infection is on the increase as it is now. I think we will get a three-digit number of inpatients in the near future, more than a hundred in at the same time. But I hope that we don't reach the same levels as last winter when we had the third wave of infection", Nakstad stated.
The high infection rates have already influenced Norway's reopening plan.
"For the time being, the reopening has been put on hold to be able to carry out more vaccinations, and the government will soon take a stance on this as a whole", Nakstad said.
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So far, Norway has managed to fully vaccinate 56.4 percent of its 5.3-million-strong population. Norway is currently researching the possibilities of injecting those with a compromised immune system with a third vaccine dose, as well as vaccinating children aged 12-15.
Assistant Health Director Espen Rostrup Nakstad said that the goal is to vaccinate 90% of everyone who is offered a shot. He admitted that while so-called herd immunity is impossible, this will limit the incidence of serious illness and hospitalisations.
According to a recent MSIS survey by the National Institute of Public Health, 160,174 Norwegians have so far been confirmed infected, whereas a total of 814 Norwegians have died of COVID-19. Some 58.5 percent of all deaths are aged 80 and over. In the age group below 50, only 17 deaths have been reported.
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