NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) reports the COVID-19  situation is becoming increasingly serious. The number of detected cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection is increasing rapidly, followed by an increase in hospital admissions.

Hospitals, nursing homes, family doctors and out-of-hours clinics are under an ever-increasing strain as a result of more patients, increased sickness absence among healthcare personnel and lower access to temporary staff from abroad.

The omicron variant is becoming established in Norway and will soon dominate. This will significantly increase transmission.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Norway has reported 1,792 Omicron cases. Norway announced that probable cases of Omicron VOC infection are now considered as confirmed cases and, therefore, the total number of Omicron detections consists of both probable and confirmed cases.

This is more than half the total cases in the EU/EEA.

Already in December, the omicron variant will cause an increase in the number of sick people, many hospital admissions, and a significant strain on the healthcare service and society, through widespread sickness absence. Even if the omicron variant were to cause milder disease in the individual, the widespread transmission would still lead to significantly more hospital admissions than today.

In a preliminary scenario, we estimate that in three weeks there could be up to 90,000 and 300,000 cases per day and 50 to 200 admissions per day if the measures do not slow the epidemic significantly.

There may also be an influenza epidemic from the end of December or in January, but this may be slowed by the measures against the coronavirus epidemic.

There is an urgent need to curb the COVID-19 epidemic with significant measures so that the omicron variant does not cause an epidemic wave that places an enormous disease burden and completely overloads the health service. The purpose is to reduce and flatten this wave.

Vaccination also reduces the risk of a severe disease course with the omicron variant, even if the protection against becoming infected is reduced.

A lack of action now can result in a major negative impact on society, not just on the healthcare services in hospitals and the municipalities.

High sickness absence will affect many sectors. The healthcare service and other sectors must review their continuity plans.