NIPH employees have received several threats during the pandemic. Now they are working to strengthen security.

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The National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) connected the police after threats against employees. Feelings of powerlessness as a result of the coronary restrictions may be a possible reason for the threats to increase, the researcher believes.

Employees at FHI have received several threats. Two were so serious that they were reported. Fredrik Varfjell, NTB

Weekly press conferences. Recommendations and warnings about travel and everyday life. Daily press releases. FHI is at the forefront of Norway’s work to combat the coronavirus.

The health authority now states that their employees have received more threats during the pandemic than before.

– We can confirm that some employees have received threats, and that we have had more of this now than before, writes Gun Peggy Knudsen, assistant director of FHI, in an e-mail to Aftenposten.

Police report death threat

The FHI summit points out that it is not unnatural to have an increase “in a situation where many in the population can experience both fear and anxiety”.

– But threats are naturally unacceptable, and we report specific threats to the police that we perceive as credible, Knudsen writes.

Gun Peggy Knudsen, assistant director of FHI, confirms that two threats against employees have been reported to the police. Ørn Borgen

Two incidents have been reported to the police, she states. One of them is a death threat.

Police Inspector Renate Myhre Medby confirms that the Oslo Police District has received a report from FHI.

– All cases concerning threats against public servants or particularly vulnerable occupational groups are taken seriously. The starting point is that such cases are investigated, but a specific assessment of the individual case is made before the investigation is initiated, she says.

NIPH is now working internally to follow up on the threats.

– Since last summer, we have informed employees that FHI is now so exposed in the media, among other things, that we can attract people who may threaten or be behind unwanted incidents. We are working on looking at how we can further strengthen the safety of employees, says Knudsen.

Crisis time affects

Jørgen Svalund researches violence and threats in working life at FAFO. He believes the increase in threats may be a consequence of the ongoing pandemic. Svalund points to a feeling of powerlessness among the population as a result of the coronary restrictions as a possible cause.

In the past, FHI has mostly been in the spotlight for compiling statistics and guidelines for the health care system. That has changed abruptly. Now they have a big impact on people’s lives here and now, says Svalund.

– They can affect people’s lives to a fairly strong degree with restrictions. People may lose their jobs or the company may go bankrupt. It can make people think it is FHI’s fault.

He adds that threats are far from the most rational way to respond:

“But for people who are in a powerless situation, it is not certain that they see more fruitful ways to make themselves heard, such as trying to influence decisions politically through letters from readers or by contacting politicians,” he says.

Confidence in the economy is declining

The Ministry of Health and Care Services states that they have not received any threats.

Seven out of ten Norwegians trust the authorities’ information from the government, according to the latest figures from the Norwegian corona monitor from Opinion. The survey regularly takes stock of the population’s reactions to the authorities’ handling of the crisis.

But the previous survey shows that confidence in the economic measures is declining. Only every second Norwegian, 47 per cent, has confidence that the government has implemented the necessary measures to limit damage to the Norwegian economy. This is six percent below the average for the entire corona period.

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