On Saturday, March 14, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced that Norway will close its airports and seaports from Monday, March 16, to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic within the country's borders. Notably, planes carrying Norwegian citizens back to Norway will still be allowed to land in the country, as Norwegian citizens returning to the country are exempted from the measures; the government is reportedly negotiating with airlines SAS and Norwegian Air to expedite the repatriation of Norwegian citizens.
Also, on Thursday, March 12, Solberg announced a new series of COVID-19 containment measures. All schools, kindergartens, and universities will be closed from Saturday, March 14, until Thursday, March 26. Cultural and sporting events are banned. Gyms, swimming pools, and businesses offering hairdressing, skincare, massage, body care, and tattooing are also closed. All restaurants, bars, and cafés must ensure that guests are kept at least one meter apart.
As of March 14, over 990 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Norway, as well as two associated deaths.
Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.