On Sunday afternoon, the state administrator in Oslo and Viken, Valgerd Svarstad Haugland, told Dagbladet that Fredrikstad was also affected by the outbreak with the mutated virus in Halden and Sarpsborg.
– We have been in meetings now, but have not drawn any conclusion about which municipalities can be involved. What we do know is that Sarpsborg, Fredrikstad and Halden have been affected by this outbreak. We will come back with more information when we have worked more to investigate the extent of the outbreak, says Svarstad Haugland to Dagbladet and continues:
– We will make a thorough review of which municipalities should be covered by new measures, we must also assess the strength of these measures.
– Are you going to attend more meetings about this tonight?
– I do not completely ignore it. There may be new meetings tonight, and there may be tomorrow.
Outbreak in Halden
On Sunday, Halden municipality confirmed that a person associated with an outbreak in Comet and Halden ice rink, has been diagnosed with the English virus variant. As of 29 January, 30 cases of infection were registered in connection with the outbreak.
– The person from Halden was part of the large eruption connected to the ice rink in Halden. The outbreak is a mass infection event in the ice rink last Saturday morning, FHI chief physician Preben Aavitsland informs Dagbladet.
Fredrikstad municipality states on its website that they have detected covid-19 in three people who are connected to the outbreak in the hockey club Comet and Halden. Sarpsborg municipality states that there are four people from their municipality who have been diagnosed with covid-19, who are connected to the outbreak in the hockey club.
The current cases in Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg have not yet been proven in the British virus variant. But the National Institute of Public Health states that several samples from the outbreak will be analyzed continuously, and that it is expected that more of the samples show the English virus variant.
Crisis plan implemented
Svarstad Haugland also confirms that they have implemented the Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie’s emergency plan for outbreaks of mutated virus variants in Norway.
– Yes, and now we are in the first step, we also want to continue working on this.
Høie’s crisis plan is divided into three steps:
1. The state administrator calls for an emergency meeting with the affected municipalities, the health region, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the National Institute of Public Health.
2. Introduce measures corresponding to the measures described in emergency preparedness level 5, which is the highest level, in the outbreak municipality and the other municipalities that are most integrated with this, so-called ring 1.
Introduce measures that correspond to the measures described for emergency preparedness level 4 in the municipalities that are in the peripheral zone of the other municipalities, so-called ring 2.
As part of the crisis plan, it is also stated that the infection control measures will be adapted to local conditions, and what is known at all times about the outbreak.
The government is preparing
Minister of Health Høie has also confirmed to Dagbladet that they have urgently convened meetings between the affected municipalities, the Norwegian Directorate of Health, the National Institute of Public Health and the state administrator.
– There will be a discussion about what are the right measures to get a better overview of and keep control of the outbreak. The government is prepared to make decisions quickly if it is necessary and desirable to introduce similar measures that we have had in connection with the outbreak in Nordre Follo, Høie tells Dagbladet.
The Halden eruption
It was earlier on Sunday morning that the National Institute of Public Health stated that a person in Halden had been diagnosed with the English virus variant. The person in question participated in an ice hockey training in Halden on 23 January, and so far there is no known connection to travelers from the UK.
FHI is now examining several samples from people associated with the eruption in the ice rink, and expects more of these to show the same virus variant.
– This virus variant is more contagious, but in all probability does not cause more serious disease than the variants that have dominated in Norway so far, says chief physician at the National Institute of Public Health Preben Aavitsland.
Halden municipality has in a press release asked Halden residents to avoid contact with others than their nearest Sunday. Halden municipality has also confirmed that they are in contact with both Sarpsborg and Fredrikstad municipality, which are also affected by the outbreak.