Omikron variant increases

The corona pandemic does not seem to be over right yet. Omikron variant BA. 5 is creating increased infection pressure in Portugal these days. The country is now in what is being referred to as the sixth wave of covid-19.

On Wednesday, the country’s health authorities confirmed 26,848 cases and 47 covid-related deaths, according to The Guardian.

This was the highest number of daily infections and deaths recorded since 17 February.

In total, almost 990,000 infections were registered in April and May in the country. This is 21 percent of the number infected since the pandemic started, according to The Portugal News.

– We are not very worried here in Norway. But we still have circulating viruses and we must expect new waves, says Frode Forland, director of infection control at FHI.

He comes straight from an evaluation with the European Infection Control Agency in Stockholm.

– The infection is slightly increasing in some countries. Our explanation is that there are some countries, such as Portugal, which have not had a large omicron wave. Now they get it through BA. 5 or BA. 4, says Forland.

In Norway we had a wave with omikron BA. 2 this winter. This means that we are better protected.

90 percent of the cases

Both the number of infected and the number of deaths will now increase in Portugal as a result of BA. 5 variant of the coronavirus.

In April, 1,455 were reported to die of or with covid-19 in Portugal. The number of deaths in April represents six percent of the total number of covid deaths reported in Portugal.

On Tuesday, The National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA), which corresponds to FHI in Portugal, stated that the new BA. 5 now represents 90 percent of new covid-19 infections. This according to Euro News.

The new omikron variants are somewhat more contagious.

– BA. 5 is more contagious, we also see this in the fact that it takes over BA. 2 has been dominant, but there is no evidence that it causes more serious illness, says Forland.

BOOSTER: An annual booster dose for some groups is now being discussed in Norway. Photo: Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock / NTB
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Falls in neighboring countries

The infection pressure in Portugal is also extraordinary for the region. In France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain, the number of infected people has fallen steadily over the past two months.

Hospital admissions and the number of patients in the intensive care units are expected to remain high in Portugal until the end of June.

Last week, Portugal registered 2,447 new cases of covid-19 per million inhabitants. In comparison, 447 infected per million were registered in neighboring Spain, writes Euro News.

Although the rate of infection is increasing in Portugal, it is still just over a third of the number of daily infections as it was at the end of January.

The wave of infections creates fear for the country’s tourism industry, but according to sources who speak to Reuters, no cancellations have been reported so far.

More than 90 percent of the population in Portugal is fully vaccinated against covid-19.

WORRIED: On Friday 16 April, the Indian mutation of covid-19 was detected in Bergen. Assistant Health Director Espen Rostrup Nakstad is concerned.
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Highest incidence

“Portugal is probably the European country with the highest incidence of this sub-variant, and this partly explains the high number of new cases that we see,” said Minister of Health Marta Temido.

In April, most corona measures in Portugal disappeared, including the use of bandages.

Health Minister Temido says it is still recommended to use face masks and the authorities offer booster vaccine to the most vulnerable, but there are no plans to introduce new corona restrictions.

Small increase in Norway

Shares of BA. 5 of reported covid-19 cases are also increasing in Germany. At the end of April, the share was BA. 5 in Germany 0.2 per cent of cases, compared with 5.2 per cent reported on 22 May. In Germany it is BA. 2 which is the dominant one, with 96 per cent of the cases.

On Thursday, Germany reported 46,327 new cases of covid-19, and 124 deaths of or with covid-19. The infection pressure in Germany has fallen since the end of March.

Last weekly report from the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH), published on 25 May, shows a small increase in the number of inpatients with covid-19 as the main cause in week 19. This happened after nine weeks with a decrease in the number of inpatients. In week 20, a slight decline has been registered so far. In week 20, 66 new covid patients were registered.

– The downward trend we have seen in Norway since week eight, it has stopped a few weeks ago. The infection is now at a stable low level, says Forland.

NOT OVER: We still want the coronavirus around us.  Photo: Nhemz / Shutterstock / NTB

NOT OVER: We still want the coronavirus around us. Photo: Nhemz / Shutterstock / NTB
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Mostly in the elderly

The infection pressure in Norway now follows the age groups for who is most exposed, says the subject director. The elderly over the age of 75 now have the most cases of infection, while the pressure of infection is lowest in young children.

Frode Forland advises Norwegians who are going to travel this summer to follow the rules that apply to “your” country.

– There are still restrictions in certain countries with the use of face masks. You still need a corona certificate, and there are slightly different rules, says Forland.

FHI’s reports are now published every other week. As of May 22, FHI has registered a total of 3,141 covid-19 related deaths, by or with covid-19. Reported deaths have been declining over the past eight weeks.

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