Oslo locks down after deaths linked to new coronavirus variant

Norway launched a few of its strictest measures of the Covid-19 pandemic as far as it reacted to a number of deaths in a city close to Oslo as a result of extra contagious variant first found within the UK.

The centre-right authorities on Saturday ordered all retailers apart from meals shops, pharmacies and petrol stations closed within the capital and a number of other close by municipalities, and moved all colleges and kindergartens in the identical space to the so-called crimson degree, which implies native authorities can shut them.

Authorities moved shortly after it emerged on Friday that two deaths in a care house 20km south of Oslo earlier in January concerned the extra contagious variant of coronavirus.

Norway has been one of many least affected nations in Europe by Covid-19 with low an infection and demise charges. Well being authorities and the federal government have been credited with taking rapid decisions each to shut down and reopen society.

However the newest restrictions come solely 5 days after Norway grew to become one of many first European nations to ease its restrictions from the primary wave. Kids’s sports activities and leisure actions that have been allowed to restart on Thursday have been halted once more on Saturday in Oslo and 9 neighbouring municipalities.

“It is a very critical state of affairs and we should do all the pieces we are able to to cease the outbreak,” Norwegian well being minister Bent Hoie mentioned, talking from his winter cabin.

He mentioned that the measures have been the strictest since Norway initially locked down on March 12 final yr and in some areas “we’re going even additional”.

He added: “We’re doing what we are able to now to cease this outbreak with highly effective measures, in order that we are able to shortly regain management and ease essentially the most intrusive restrictions. Collectively we now have managed to beat down the virus a number of instances, and collectively we are able to handle it once more.”

Norway, with a inhabitants of 5.3m folks, has the bottom demise charge per capita of any European nation with 544 Covid fatalities throughout the pandemic. That compares with 11,055 in neighbouring Sweden, which has double the inhabitants and eschewed a proper lockdown.

The present restrictions will initially final to the tip of January as authorities gauge how far the variant has unfold.

Some native politicians in and round Oslo have criticised well being authorities for a way lengthy it has taken to check samples for the brand new variant. The samples that led to the lockdown have been taken on January 3.

There isn’t any curfew or bar on motion in Oslo, though Norway’s authorities lately requested for the authorized energy to introduce one if crucial.

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