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Norway’s top public health official says lockdowns may have been unnecessary to control COVID-19

The director of Norway’s Institute of Public Health said the country might have been able to achieve the same level of COVID-19 mitigation without aggressive lockdown policies, according to The Local.

Norway joined many other countries in implementing strict stay-at-home rules in mid-March, even though the rate of coronavirus transmission was already relatively low.

“It does not mean that we do not stand by the advice we gave then, given the knowledge base we had at the time,” said Camilla Stoltenberg, director general of the Institute of Public Health. “Our assessment now, and I find that there is a broad consensus in connection with the reopening, was that one could achieve perhaps the same effect and avoid some of the unfortunate impacts by not closing, but by keeping open with infection control measures.”

Stoltenberg’s own agency didn’t recommend closing down schools in mid-March, saying that measure was not needed at the time, although it could have become necessary down the road.

If there is a second wave of COVID-19, as some public health experts predict, Norway will likely take less severe measures to slow the spread of the virus and protect the population, unless the second wave is significantly worse than the first one. Instead, more emphasis will be put on getting residents to follow the proper precautions. From The Local:

She recommended that if the country is hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections after the summer, it should avoid such heavy handed measures, unless levels of infection are much higher than experienced in March and April.

“I think it will take a lot. And there is a strong willingness on the part of all parties to find instruments that are more gentle and more flexible,” she said. “What is needed is a commitment from the entire population to follow the infection prevention advice.”

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