Norwegian health chief: we advised against closing schools

June 10, 2020
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Camilla Stoltenberg is the Director-General of the Norwegian Institute for Public Health, which has been advising the Norwegian government on the country’s Covid-19 response. Norway attracted attention in recent weeks after taking the decision to close its border with neighbouring Sweden, while opening it with Denmark as part of the region’s ‘Nordic travel bubble’.

Stoltenberg explains to Freddie Sayers that the reason for Sweden’s exclusion was in large part political, and a recent opinion poll found a majority of the population did not support opening the border with the country.

But in spite of Norway’s success in keeping the total number of infections low, the Director-General argues that the government’s response was not that dissimilar to Sweden’s but may have been too heavy-handed in certain areas.

She explains that:

  • The evidence for wearing masks is “not good”
  • Though important, social distancing could be reduced to one metre instead of 2m
  • Closing down schools was not recommended as part of the lockdown
  • Norway’s lockdown after the first Covid death early, possibly even “too soon”
  • These should be political decisions, and its better for ministers to present them (like Norway) than scientists (like Sweden)
  • She is not convinced that the differences between countries comes down to early and strong action – it could be just as much luck
  • She believes that a second wave is likely BUT if there is a second wave there should not be another lockdown, only extensive testing and tracing
  • We won’t go back to the old normal until a vaccine is discovered, which could take years

Have a watch…


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