Norway should not have done as neighboring Sweden did at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
No, is the short answer, says Austin Olsen.
He is the chair of the Corona Committee, which on Friday presented its report on how the Norwegian authorities have dealt with the pandemic.
One of the commission’s tasks was to compare Norway’s dealings with the other Nordic countries.
Including Sweden, which has long taken fewer and less stringent measures than Norway.
Olsen thinks it was right to take a tough line:
– There were swift measures, strong measures, yes, sweeping ones too. This is our main assessment, he says.
He stressed that the committee did not evaluate the different countries’ handling of the epidemic.
– But we acknowledge our government’s dealings.
Children and young people have been hit hard
This is despite the fact that the commission believes that particularly vulnerable people have suffered during the pandemic.
Children and young people had to bear a disproportionately large burden, says Olsen.
The committee also believes that the authorities were not smart enough to include organizations working for children and young people when they took measures to prevent infection.
Closed activity also affects the elderly and people with dementia or impairment of function.
In general it is handled well
The committee chair started the presentation with the conclusion:
The Norwegian authorities generally handled the epidemic in a good way. Norway ranks well on key outcome criteria, compared to other countries.
This is especially true of the number of deaths. But Norway was still not prepared to deal with the epidemic.
Among other things, the panel notes that many patients place significant pressure on healthcare workers.
– Authorities should investigate the possibility of creating a national overview of healthcare personnel, which will be a critical capability in future pandemic situations, says Olsen.
The committee also believes that basic capacity should be increased in large parts of the health service, in order to better deal with future epidemics.
When the omikron variant came along, the authorities should have learned from the earlier stages.
Especially regarding the rules for entering Norway.
The committee believes that the authorities should learn from this for next time:
Until the next pandemic, it is imperative that entry measures be put in place quickly, that the system be manageable and that measures be effective, says Olsen.
Critical measures in schools
NRK learned on Thursday that the committee had criticized one of the government’s measures.
The government has decided to keep secondary schools at the red level for parts of December 2021 and January 2022.
Student organization was paramount, while many educators’ organizations welcomed the red standard.
The red level was the most stringent level of measures in the schools. Then, among other things, no one should appear sick, physical contact should be avoided, and there should be distance between staff, students, and smaller groups.
It was introduced because there were too few self-tests. But it wasn’t communicated well enough.
– This may have contributed to a misunderstanding that the position of teachers’ organizations played an important role, says the commission.
The committee also believes that there was too little information about the epidemic in other languages - including Sami.
Perhaps the last report
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Storr received the report on Friday.
Storr said this is the third report to be made on the coronavirus pandemic in Norway – and possibly the last as well.
The prime minister was pleased with the committee’s overall praise for the handling, although the authorities are also receiving criticism.
– There are specific recommendations. We will take him with us. Because the next crisis will not be like the previous one, he said.
This is the choice
The committee is appointed in April 2022.
The task was to assess the authorities’ handling of the Corona pandemic in Norway.
They had to look specifically at handling the omikron variant from November 1, 2021, to May, 2022.
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