While the number of Norwegians hospitalized with Corona decreased last week, the total number of hospitalizations has increased. The reason is the strong growth in foreign-born patients.
The trend among new patients admitted to hospital with a corona infection is now declining among people born in Norway, according to its current weekly report from the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH). In the past week, 114 Norwegians were hospitalized with a corona infection, up from 134 the week before.
At the same time, the total number of new inpatients in Norway is increasing. Foreign-born people are responsible for all growth. 79 people born outside of Norway were admitted to Covid-19 last week, up from 55 the week before. That is an increase of up to 44 percent.
Up to 41 percent of those admitted with Covid-19 in the past week were born abroad, according to the FHI.
Head doctor Preben Aavitsland of the National Institute of Public Health says the numbers paint a familiar picture, but the development is worrying.
– We have seen most of the epidemics in which immigrants are over-represented among hospital patients, in part because vaccination coverage is lower in some groups of the immigrant population. The development is unfortunate and we strongly recommend unvaccinated people to take the first dose as soon as possible.
For those born abroad in hospitals, countries in Eastern Europe dominate. 16 of the new prisoners come from Poland, five from Lithuania. There are also six from Eritrea and five from Syria. For the other countries of birth there were fewer than five inpatients, so the FHI did not provide the background.
The numbers of those born abroad in hospitals can be found in the statistics of those vaccinated. While 92 percent of adults born in Norway are fully vaccinated, the numbers are far lower in many other countries.
Of those born in Poland, only four in ten are fully vaccinated, and of those born in Lithuania, 43 percent received two doses.
Countries in Eastern Europe clearly stand out with a low vaccination rate, but also those born in Somalia and Eritrea, the vaccination rate is significantly lower than for those born in Norway.
The link between vaccination and serious illness is clear. Figures from the NIPH show that more than half of hospital admissions are unvaccinated.
Deputy Health Director Espen Rostrup Nakstad confirms that lower vaccination rates are likely to be the reason why foreign-born people are over-represented among inpatients.
– It is well known that in Eastern Europe, among others, vaccination coverage is lower than in Norway, so it is not surprising that many of foreign backgrounds living or staying in Norway have low vaccination coverage. We see this in the high proportion of unvaccinated people who are hospitalized.
FHI’s Deputy Director Geir Bukholm believes that a lower level of trust in the authorities could explain why fewer people from Eastern Europe were vaccinated.
– In some of these countries the vaccination coverage is low in the countries themselves and it certainly has to do with the level of trust you have in the authorities and so on. Then in Norway we try to bring people with a national background from these countries here to motivate them to get vaccinated, says Bukholm to Dagbladet.
– It is probably a rather complex picture to explain why vaccination coverage is so low in these countries in the first place, says Bukholm.
Nakstad believes there are several reasons for this, but supports the theory that it is related to falling confidence in the government.
– There are likely to be many reasons for this, including the trust that exists between the authorities and the population in different countries.
Nakstad says health officials have taken several measures to encourage more foreign-born people to get vaccinated.
– As before, extensive information work is carried out in various channels and we are in dialogue with the communities in order to maintain a permanent vaccination offer during working hours and to actively offer vaccinations to people who only partially live or stay in Norway.
Raising the vaccination rate in this group may be one of the keys to bringing the growing infection under control and easing pressure on hospitals, says Geir Bukholm of the FHI.
– We have a strong focus on this group. And in this group, too, we can do a lot to reduce the number of hospital admissions, especially in intensive care units, says Bukholm.