Coronavirus – facts and approach in Norway

The new coronavirus was discovered in January 2020 and new knowledge is constantly being generated. What do we know about the outbreak and the virus? And how is the outbreak handled in Norway? Information will be adjusted and updated in line with the development of the outbreak and knowledge about the infection.

About the outbreak

The outbreak started in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province in China in December 2019 and was linked to a food market in the town. The virus was identified by Chinese health authorities on January 7th, 2020. The virus has been given the name SARS-CoV-2 and is a coronavirus that can cause respiratory infection in humans. The disease has been given the name covid-19.

The new coronavirus causes respiratory infections, ranging from mild symptoms to severe disease and, in rare cases, death.

The disease is transmitted from person to person and has spread from China to large parts of the world, including Europe and Norway.

On January 30th, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared "a public health emergency of international concern". The declaration is intended to strengthen WHO's co-ordination of efforts to prevent further spread of the disease caused by the new virus.

WHO declared the outbreak to be a pandemic on March 12th, 2020.

More information from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health:

About the virus

As with colds and influenza, the coronavirus is transmitted from the respiratory tract of a person who is ill in three ways:

  • Airborne when the person who is ill sneezes or coughs, followed by the virus being inhaled or coming into contact with the mucosa of the eyes, nose or mouth of people nearby.
  • By direct contact when the person who is ill has the virus on their hands and transmits it by contact with others, who then touch the mucosa of their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • By indirect contact when the virus is transmitted onto objects or surfaces (e.g. door handles, keyboards, telephones and such) by sneezing or coughing, or by the person who is ill having the virus on their hands and others then come into contact with the object/surface.

The virus is mainly transmitted by droplets and through contact as with other coronaviruses, but the virus has also been detected in stools. A systematic review from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health shows that transmission can mainly be traced back to direct or indirect physical contact. At present there is no evidence of airborne transmission playing a key role in the transmission of covid-19.

Contagiousness

Calculations from China estimate that one person who is infected with the coronavirus will infect 2-3 others on average. In comparison, a person with influenza will infect 1-2 others. The calculations for coronavirus are currently very uncertain and will probably be lower in Norway because we have a lower population density and have implemented measures to limit transmission.

How is the contagion handled in Norway?

The SARS-CoV-2 virus was first detected in Norway on February 26th, 2020 and the number of people with confirmed covid-19 is increasing. 

Comprehensive measures were imposed during the spring of 2020. You can find a timeline of the measures imposed by the Government at regjerningen.no.

Find more information and facts about infection control measures for the covid-19 outbreak at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

An updated overview of the number of infected persons is posted daily on fhi.no.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for covid-19 as per today. General advice for infection control such as social distancing, good hand and cough hygiene is important in order to limit the transmission.