COVID-19 pandemic in Norway

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
COVID-19 pandemic in Norway: municipalities with cases of infection in red, with deaths in black

The COVID-19 pandemic is occurring in Norway as part of the global COVID-19 pandemic that began in China . Cases have been occurring in Norway since the end of February 2020. The cause of the disease is the pathogen SARS-CoV-2 . A first death became known on March 12th. In mid-March 2020, Norway was one of the hardest hit countries in Europe. On March 12, 2020, the closure of schools and other public facilities was announced. These measures have been gradually relaxed since April 20, 2020.



The first case in Norway was reported on February 26, 2020. It was a woman from Tromsø , who had recently been in the badly affected China . It was also revealed that a Norwegian living in Florence was ill and showed mild symptoms. The following day, the Norwegian health authority Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI) reported three new infections. They have now been located in southern Norway, in the municipalities of Oslo and Bærum . The two infections in Oslo could be traced back to the epidemic in Italy , the other to the outbreak in Iran . All those affected went into quarantine. In addition, other people were quarantined in almost all Norwegian provinces while they awaited their test results.

On February 28, 2020, the case of an employee at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo who had become infected in northern Italy became known. Since the person had come to work two days before the infection was discovered, a larger number of contact persons had to be found for the first time. On this day, a sixth infected person from Bergen , who had also previously been in northern Italy, was reported.


On the evening of March 2, 2020, the Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI) confirmed 25 people infected with the virus. On March 4, 2020, according to information from the FHI, there were still no people who had to be treated in hospital due to the infection with the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen.

On March 7, 2020, the virus reached the province of Nordland, the last of the eleven Norwegian provinces ( Fylker ) . On March 8, the FHI stated that of the 169 confirmed cases, 109 had become infected in connection with a trip to Italy or Austria. On March 10, 192 of the approximately 3,000 people examined by then tested positive for the virus.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced in an interview on March 12, 2020 that the first person had died. It was an elderly person who had been treated at Oslo University Hospital. The health authority Helsedirektoratet published on March 13, 2020 that 28 people were in inpatient treatment due to complaints related to an infection. The day before it would have been 15 fewer people. Two more deaths became known on March 14th in an Oslo nursing home and in Oslo University Hospital. Oslo University Hospital reported on March 15 that 1,081 employees were under quarantine and 14 employees were confirmed corona cases. As of March 17, 2020, TV 2 reports said a total of 8,000 hospital workers across Norway were in isolation.

In the daily report of the FHI on March 14, 2020, the institute stated that 646 infected people were infected abroad and a further 223 in Norway. With 459 infected people, the largest proportion was made up of those who became infected in Austria . In addition, 138 Norwegians were infected in Italy . In the March 17 report, the number had risen to 423 people infected in Norway and 757 abroad. Austria was still the front runner with 513 infections. The main source of infections from Austria was the resort of Ischgl in Tyrol . In the report of March 18, 2020, Norway was the first place of infection with 549 out of 1423 infections.

On March 18, 2020, the number of known deaths rose to six. The average age of the first five people who died was given as 89 years. In the daily report of the FHI of March 21, 2020 it was stated that 130 people were treated in the hospital on that day and 33 of them were in an intensive care unit . A total of 49,451 people had tested for SARS-CoV-2 by March 21, 1926 of whom were positive. The figures from March 28th indicated that 52% of the people (1994 cases) had been infected in Norway, a further 17 percent in Austria (635 cases). In 15% of the cases, i.e. in 595 people, the source of the infection was unknown. Other countries where many Norwegians were infected were Spain (178 cases), Italy (169 cases) and Great Britain (76 cases).

Camilla Stoltenberg , head of the FHI, stated in an interview with the Norsk rikskringkasting (NRK) on March 25, 2020 that some of the measures taken to contain the pandemic must last until a vaccination against the virus becomes possible. If the measures were lifted too early, there would be a risk that too small a proportion of the population would be immune and a new outbreak would threaten. The new strategy of the health authorities and the government has therefore been to stop the virus and no longer, as before, to slow the outbreak. In an assessment by the FHI it was stated that this strategy needs very extensive measures to reduce interpersonal contact. These can also have negative effects on other sick people, businesses and society.


On April 1, 2020, Health Minister Bent Høie announced that there was reason to believe that no conditions like those in Italy were to be expected in Norway. The outbreak in Italy was the strongest in Europe at the time. The FHI forecast the peak of the pandemic in Norway for May or June. On April 6, Høie announced that the pandemic had been brought under control. As the reason for this, he stated that previously each infected person would have infected an average of only 0.7 other people. Before the measures were introduced, the value would have been 2.5. The aim of achieving a value below 1.0 was thus achieved. FHI director Camilla Stoltenberg explained that there was a significant flattening of the curve for the new hospital and intensive care patients.

On April 7, 2020, the government announced that it will gradually relax the measures taken from April 20. First of all, school operations were resumed. On April 16, 2020, the app Smittestopp (German: contagion stop ) was published. It was voluntary and was supposed to help trace potential chains of infection. It was also reported that more and more hospitals were resuming normal operations and reducing the COVID-19 on-call service.

In the daily report of the FHI of April 30, 2020, 7710 people tested positive were listed. The average age was 49 years. 998 people who tested positive were treated in hospital, of which 825 were cited as being infected with the virus. 214 of these patients were in intensive care. The average age was 62 years. The number of deaths was given as 204.


From May 7, 2020, events with up to 50 people were again allowed for the first time. On this day, the total number of those who tested positive was 7,995 and 217 patients were in intensive care units. The death toll was put at 209. On May 5th, the number of those who had recovered was calculated for the first time. According to the FHI, it was around 90 percent.


In June, the number of new infections remained low, and on June 19, 2020 the health authority FHI stopped publishing daily reports and switched to weekly reports. Some measures were further relaxed.

From July

At the end of July, the FHI warned that too many people would no longer follow the protective measures, making local outbreaks more likely. One such local outbreak was recorded in the southeastern Norwegian town of Moss in July 2020 , where at least 24 people were infected. Another outbreak occurred in late July on a Hurtigruten ship , on which 33 employees tested positive after the ship anchored in Tromsø harbor . The remaining passengers were obliged to a ten-day quarantine.

Due to the increasing number of infections, Health Minister Bent Høie announced on August 7, 2020 that the rules would be tightened again. Among other things, it was called again to avoid all unnecessary trips. In the commune of Indre Østfold , stricter rules were drawn up after an outbreak on August 9, 2020, including a ban on private meetings.

Comparative classification

In mid-March 2020, Norway was one of the most severely affected countries in Europe in relation to population. In the report of the World Health Organization (WHO) of March 17, 2020 , Norway was in absolute numbers with 1169 infected people ahead of Austria with 1132 infected people. In the further course, Norway, together with Denmark and Finland, was often compared with their neighboring country Sweden, which had far higher case numbers due to the different strategies for containing the pandemic.


Health Minister Bent Høie
Photo: Kjetil Ree

Health Minister Bent Høie asked Norwegian hospitals on March 10, 2020 to prepare for 22,000 patients during the year. At its peak, there could be 1,700 patients at the same time, according to his prognosis.

Closure of facilities

On March 12, the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced that all schools, kindergartens and universities should be closed from March 13 at 6 p.m. This instruction was initially valid until March 26th and was then extended until April 13th. Some municipalities had previously announced that they would stop running schools on site. On the same day, Raymond Johansen , the chairman of the Oslo city government, announced that all events with more than 50 participants were no longer permitted in the city. In addition, many public buildings were closed.

Inga Marte Thorkildsen , responsible for education in the Oslo city government ( Byråd ), announced on April 5, 2020 that Oslo schools would remain closed after April 13, regardless of what the Norwegian government would decide. The government announced its timetable on April 7, 2020. From April 20, kindergartens were reopened. Seven days later the schools for children up to fourth grade followed, the secondary schools for certain groups of pupils and the universities for students shortly before their graduation. Hairdressers and masseurs are also allowed to work again if they meet the infection protection criteria. The other measures should continue to exist.

Oslo city government chief Raymond Johansen said the next day that it can be assumed that the number of reproductions in Oslo is higher than in the rest of the country because the population in the city is more densely populated. Therefore, the opening should take place there more slowly.

On April 25, 2020, Minister of Culture Abid Raja announced that events with over 500 participants would continue to be prohibited until at least September 1, 2020. Events with up to 50 people are allowed again from May 7th, subject to certain rules. On May 7, 2020, Raja finally announced that from June 16, the Eliteserien football league can resume its game operations, with a maximum of 200 people being allowed in the arena. Before that, there was a dispute with politicians from the Labor Party , who criticized the FHI for having already given their okay for the resumption, but the government continued to wait. Culture Minister Raja replied that football should not be preferred to other sports.

On August 7, 2020 it was announced that no further opening for larger events is planned. A nationwide ban on selling alcohol after midnight was also imposed.

Travel restrictions

Border closings

On March 14, 2020, Prime Minister Solberg said in a press conference that the Norwegian ports and airports will be closed from March 16. It was later specified that Norwegian citizens can continue to return home, but that people without a right of residence in Norway should be turned away. All travelers from non-Nordic countries to Norway who are not resident in Norway were turned away at the border from March 16, 2020. Above all, this regulation should help to relieve the authorities responsible for quarantine. Goods could be transported further. Another announcement concerned the use of the Norwegian reserve force, the Heimevernet , to control ports and airports as well as border controls.

In order to bring citizens who are still abroad back to Norway, the state supported some airlines by the end of March 2020 to fly to airports that they actually no longer served. Justice Minister Monica Mæland stated that it was not guaranteed to be able to bring everyone back to Norway in this way.

Quarantine for travelers

From March 12, 2020, all people who were outside the Nordic countries after February 27, 2020 had to go into quarantine for 14 days. On March 14, 2020, the regulation was tightened again and only those arriving from Sweden and Finland were not quarantined.

In some areas of northern Norway, quarantines were imposed not only on people arriving from abroad, but also on people who had previously been in southern Norway. The municipality of Alstahaug, for example, introduced a 14-day quarantine for returnees from Oslo and Viken , in the area around Lofoten and Vesterålen the regulations for returnees from all southern Norwegian provinces came into force. Other municipalities followed suit.

On May 7, 2020, Health Minister Bent Høie announced that the mandatory quarantine period would be shortened to ten days. People who had already survived an infection were also exempted from the quarantine requirement for six months.

On June 25, 2020, the government announced new rules for the period beginning July 15, 2020. For travelers from countries with a satisfactory infection situation, there was no longer a quarantine obligation. It was also allowed to travel to countries with a low number of infections in the Schengen and EEA areas . The list of countries from which travelers are obliged to quarantine has been continuously adapted to the current situation. As of July 25, 2020, travelers from Spain had to go back to quarantine, while the regulation for some Swedish regions was relaxed. After that, further changes were made, on August 22, 2020 it was stipulated, among other things, that travelers from Greece, Ireland, Austria, the United Kingdom or the Danish region of Hovedstaden must again be in a ten-day quarantine.

Due to the increasing number of infections, Health Minister Bent Høie announced at a press conference on August 7, 2020 that all unnecessary trips to all countries should be avoided again. In addition, mandatory mouth protection has been introduced for people on their way home from countries with high numbers of infections.

Stay in second homes

From March 14 to April 20, 2020, there was a ban on staying at his second home. The ban came after it had previously been advised against traveling to the so-called hut communes, i.e. communes with a high number of leisure apartments. The reason for the ban was that the health system of most of the hut communities is not designed to also care for people from outside.

Test possibilities

On March 13, 2020, the Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI) announced that only people with respiratory problems and healthcare workers will be tested for the virus. However, people in quarantine without these symptoms were no longer given access to the tests. It was also asked that people do not contact the health authorities if they do not need help. From April 29, 2020, people with mild symptoms could again be tested if there was sufficient test capacity.

On March 29, 2020, the FHI stated that it also wanted to test people without symptoms in order to gain statistical knowledge. The model for this was Iceland, which had already started to examine people without complaints.

Economic aid

On March 15th, Prime Minister Solberg and Finance Minister Jan Tore Sanner presented a plan to support Norwegian companies with 100 billion crowns. This should secure jobs. In addition, the government decided to suspend payment of employer contributions so that employers would have more money at their disposal. On March 16, 2020, the Norwegian Parliament in Storting decided on an even more extensive package. Among other things, it stipulated that the state would partially pay wages to employees who lose their jobs or have to work short-time due to the consequences of the pandemic . In the case of short-time work, the employee continued to receive full wages for the first 20 days, with the state assuming the costs from the third day. After that, unemployment benefits were paid out, which were also adjusted so that more people could receive it. Self-employed and freelance workers were able to receive 80 percent of their average income for the past three years after the 16th day. In addition, the lower VAT rate has been reduced from twelve to eight percent. The regulation applies until October 31, 2020.

On March 18, 2020 , the Ministry of Culture and Equal Opportunities under Minister Abid Raja promised 900 million crowns for the cultural and sports sector . Among other things, this was intended to compensate for the lost revenue from ticket sales.

Power of Attorney Act

On March 18, 2020, the Solberg government presented a legislative proposal that should enable it to take decisions over the next six months without the approval of Storting , the Norwegian national parliament. All regulations so decided by the government would then have to be presented to parliament, which could repeal them with only a third of the votes. This should enable the state to act more quickly. The law has been called problematic by some lawyers because it gives the government too much power. The government planned to have the law passed in Storting on March 19, 2020. There, however, it was decided to first listen to experts. Opposition leader Jonas Gahr Støre from the Arbeiderpartiet (Ap) criticized, among other things, the long validity of the law, but also admitted a necessity: In principle, such a law is not conceivable in Norwegian democracy, but since lives are at stake, be it according to Støre necessary to take unusual steps. On March 21st, the Storting finally passed an amended version in which the law was initially only valid for one month and the government's scope of decision-making was restricted.

On April 21, 2020, the validity of the law was extended to May 27, 2020. The Sosialistisk Venstreparti (SV), the Senterpartiet (Sp) and the representative of the Marxist party Rødt now voted against the extension. In the end, there was no renewed extension and the powers assigned to the government expired on May 27, 2020. Up to then 32 laws had been passed with the help of the Power of Attorney Act.

Mouth and nose protection

In contrast to most European countries, the Norwegian health authorities and the Norwegian government did not recommend the use of mouth and nose protection, for example in public transport, for a long time .

On April 16, 2020, for example, the Folkehelseinstituttet announced that it does not advise healthy people to wear mouth and nose protection. As a justification it cited that there was insufficient evidence that this would have a positive effect. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) had previously stated that its use could limit the spread of the virus.

App Smittestop


On March 27, 2020, the Folkehelseinstituttet (FHI) announced that a mobile app was being developed to help identify sources of infection. The FHI entered into a collaboration with the state research institute Simula . The app is also intended to relieve the health authorities who have previously tried to manually determine the possible contact persons. In order to protect privacy, a cooperation with the data protection authority Datatilsynet has been entered into. Researchers and employees of the FHI stated that this app would normally not be legal for data protection reasons, but that it is possible in view of the pandemic. In addition, the app is based on voluntariness.

The app is designed to warn its users if they have been closer than two meters to an infected person for over 15 minutes. However, it should not be disclosed which person is the possible source of infection. Since a warning can only be sent if both people had installed the application at the time of the meeting, it is necessary that as many people as possible install the app voluntarily. The data should be stored for 30 days as long as the pandemic continues to pose a threat.


On April 16, 2020, the app was finally published under the name Smittestopp . As of May 13, 2020, it was reported that only about 620,000 people are actively using the application. In Oslo it was 18 percent of the population at that time, the municipality of Bykle had the highest proportion of users with 26 percent. FHI boss Camilla Stoltenberg stated in advance of the app publication that 50 to 60 percent of the population would have to use the app so that it could deliver meaningful results.


One of the criticisms of the project is the fact that the application is not an open source project and therefore no insight into how the app works is given. The fact that the data is stored centrally in a cloud was also identified as a security risk.

On June 12, 2020, the data protection authority Datatilsynet issued a provisional ban on the FHI from collecting further personal data. As a result, all data collected up to that point were deleted and FHI director Camilla Stoltenberg stated that the app would be paused. The Datatilsynet came to the conclusion that too much data is being collected with the app, which is no longer justified by the insufficient threat posed by the pandemic.

Criticism against the procedure

Criticism of government purchases

The Solberg government received criticism when it became known that it had missed a deadline within which Norway could have participated in a joint European Union (EU) purchase . Norway could have joined the joint purchasing regulations for health equipment since 2014. The purchase of 1,000 emergency ventilators, which doctors later described as unsuitable for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, was also criticized.

Deviating advice from the FHI

FHI director Camilla Stoltenberg said at the end of May 2020 that the technical basis for closing schools and kindergartens in mid-March was not sufficient. She said the FHI had not advised the Solberg government to close schools. In their opinion, this was correct, but the technical basis for it would not have been solid enough either. The statistics later showed that the spread of the virus was already declining before the lockdown .


On the night of March 15-16, 2020, all people who had traveled to Svalbard after February 27, 2020 were flown to Oslo by plane. The reason for this was that the existing health system would hardly be able to treat infected people. The hospital in the main town of Longyearbyen is the smallest in Norway and has only one room that is suitable for patients at risk of infection. Some people had previously been quarantined. The measures resulted in major losses in the archipelago's tourism industry. About 90 percent of the residents working in the travel industry were sent on short-time work. As a result, a special support law for Spitzbergen was passed, as the people living there who are citizens of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are actually not entitled to any state benefits.


Evolution of the epidemic

Confirmed infections (cumulative) in Norway
according to data from the FHI

New infections in Norway
according to data from the FHI

Confirmed deaths (cumulative) in Norway
according to data from the CSSE at Johns Hopkins University

Confirmed deaths (daily) in Norway,
according to data from CSSE at Johns Hopkins University

Regional distribution

The table shows the number of confirmed cases per county . The actual number of infections is higher.

Province (Fylke) Population (2020) Total infected Infected /
100,000 inh.
Total deaths Deaths /
100,000 inh.
Agder våpen.svg Agder 307.231 380 123.7 12 3.9
Innlandet våpen.svg Domestic 371.385 552 148.6 14th 3.8
Møre og Romsdal våpen.svg Møre and Romsdal 265,238 170 64.1 2 0.8
Nordland våpen.svg North country 241,235 150 62.2 0 0
Oslo Komm.svg Oslo 693.494 3265 470.8 76 11.0
Rogaland våpen.svg Rogaland 479,892 511 106.5 5 1.0
Coat of arms of Finnmark county and Troms county.svg Troms and Finnmark 243.311 318 130.7 4th 1.6
Trøndelag våpen.svg Trøndelag 468.702 610 130.1 5 1.1
Vestfold and Telemark våpen.svg Vestfold and Telemark 419.396 348 83.0 9 2.1
Vestland våpen.svg Vestland 636.531 972 152.7 38 6.0
Viken våpen.svg Viken 1,241,165 2884 232.4 93 7.5
foreign countries - - - 1 -
total 5,367,580 10.162 189.3 262 4.9
Source : FHI Dagsrapport ,
updated on August 20, 2020
Source : FHI Ukerapport
updated on August 19, 2020

Economic consequences

From March 9 to 16, 2020, the NAV employment service registered 12,200 people who did not show up for work due to the virus. This included all people who were found to be infected or who were suspected of being infected. An additional 4,300 cases were reported during March 16. In addition, 45,000 applications for unemployment or sickness benefit (Norwegian: dagpenger ) were received within five days . On March 24, 2020, the NAV stated that 291,000 people were registered as unemployed, which means an unemployment rate of 10.4 percent. This was the highest rate since the end of the Second World War. On March 10, 2020, the figure was 2.3 percent.

On March 16, 2020, the business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that the Norwegian krone (NOK) had fallen to a historic low. The US dollar was NOK 10.39 and one euro was NOK 11.57. On the morning of March 19, 2020, the value of one US dollar was 11.85 NOK. The main reason for this is the fall in the price of oil , as the price of the krona follows that of oil. The oil price, in turn, had fallen due to increased production in Saudi Arabia , but also lower demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Finance announced on March 20, 2020 that the gross domestic product (GDP) will probably decrease by about one percent compared to the previous year and thus be 3.5 percent below the expected value. On April 7, 2020, a report by an economic expert group was presented on behalf of the Helsinki Directorate. In this it was stated that the GDP fell by 15 percent from February to the beginning of April. The monthly cost of the measures adopted at the time was put at NOK 24 billion.

Reactions from abroad

On March 14, 2020, Russia announced that it would close the border with Norway and Poland to foreign citizens from midnight . Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom , which are not member states of the European Union , were excluded from the decision to close the EU's external borders on March 17, 2020 .

See also

Web links

Commons : COVID-19 Pandemic in Norway  - Pictures, Videos and Audio Files Collection

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