Covid-19 and Norway: Personal Report

Norway, showing regions where the Covid-19 virus is found, as of 6 March 2020.

We hear about Covid-19's victorious run through the world, in so many countries, while the newscasts focus on a few selected countries. So, here is an update from Ultima Thule. It all started, it seems, with people returning from skiing in northern Italy and Tyrol. By now there are around 700 infected persons, with hundreds added each day. The first death occurred today. This does not seem like a lot, but remember we are a very small country. So small, in fact, that the number of infections per capita puts us right up there at the top, after South Korea and Austria (or is it Italy?).

One likely explanation is that the health authorities early on detected the virus, and began testing a large number of people (in comparison, most other countries were not aware of the virus until it had pretty much established itself, that is, too late).

Up until today the health authorities had only requests for how to protect oneself. With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring this a pandemic, it has been decided to institute what can only be termed draconian measures. As of today, throughout the country, kindergartens are closed, all educational institutions including universities are closed, health services staff are forbidden to travel abroad, cultural events and sports events with more than 500 attendants are forbidden. Restaurants and bars and other such establishments will close. Training centres will close. Hair salons will close. All personal contact is to be avoided (minimum distance 1 m). We are advised to avoid using public transport. Everybody who travels to Norway is to be quaranteed. We are strongly encouraged to avoid leisure travel. The list goes on and on. These measures may be in effect at least through April.

I will not even begin to address the economic fallout – for carriers, for the tourism sector, for concert/event organizers, etc. The stock market is crashing.

For me personally it is so far not so bad. I live alone, and I work from home. So, the only time I have to go out is to go the market for provisions (an adventure in itself these days). My meetings increasingly tend to be done via email, phone, and skype. I should have travelled to Vilnius next week for a workshop, which has been postponed. I will miss an annual ptarmigan dinner in Oslo next week (because of traveling using public transport). Specifically, for those among you living in Bulgaria and in the broader region, I'm wondering how long we should continue advertising music events on Musica Mondo (already a record number of events are being cancelled – three more as I have been writing this text)?

Finally, two interesting observations: First, these draconian measures are not handed down from above. While the government determined it, in effect we are all behind it, we are all in on it. We all understand and accept that this is necessary in order to stop the progress of Covid-19. By the same token, probably all of us will follow these measures, do our bit. This is the result of living in a country governed by the kind of social contract that underlies much of the values and rules we live by, and how we relate to each other, in effect, who we are.

Second, by a somewhat strange twist, while I am now removed physically from all the people I know - you among them – at the same time I feel strangely connected to you all. We are all in the same boat or situation, give or take a Covid-19 virus or two. We share the same fate, we have the same concerns, the same worries - for ourselves and loved ones, and we do our best to get along, one day at a time, hoping that this thing will soon be over.

Lars T. Soeftestad

(1) Image credit: (see Source).
(3) Relevant Devblog articles: "Fighting wars and fighting viruses"
(3) Permalink:
(4) This article was published 12 March 2020.

Wikipedia. "2020 Coronavirus pandemic in Norway"