Norwegian Health Authorities Receive Threats Amid Record COVID-19 Spread
The threats to the health authorities' lives and health often come in connection with new measures to curb the spread of COVID, as well as vaccination efforts. They were subsequently reported to the police as a "threat to democracy" and given top priority.
Norwegian health authorities, including Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) director Camilla Stoltenberg, the sister of former PM and current NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, have received threats amid the onslaught of the Omicron strain.
"We receive many inquiries from the population. Both of encouragement, anger, despair, rather harsh insults, and even some obvious threats to employees' lives and health. They come as emails, SMS, or telephone inquiries", assistant FHI director Gun Peggy Strømstad Knudsen told the local newspaper Avisa Oslo.
According to the FHI and the Oslo City Council the threats often come in connection with new measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, as well as vaccination efforts. The threats were subsequently reported to the police.
Furthermore, Oslo Health Councillor Robert Steen of the ruling Labour Party also admitted he had received his share of threats during the pandemic.
Health Minister and fellow Labour memnber Ingvild Kjerkol later spoke out against the harassment and called the threats aimed at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and others who handle the COVID-19 pandemic in Norway "unacceptable".
Kjerkol said she had noticed increasingly negative pressure amid the pandemic, adding that she had received foul messages herself, including rude comments on Facebook.
"Even though I haven't received serious threats, I, unfortunately, know from other people's stories that it can be the downside of participating in a public debate or being a public person. And that's how it shouldn't be", Kjerkol said
, as quoted by Avisa Oslo
Egil Jørgen Brekke of the Oslo police district said the threats against elected representatives and government officials would be given high priority as a "threat to democracy".
As a result of the threats, the FHI has since asked its employees to follow certain precautionary rules. These apply both at work and outside of the FHI's premises.
28 December 2021, 06:57 GMT
Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre earlier warned the public that they can expect the coronavirus to affect their daily lives throughout the winter. While praising the public for following national restrictions enacted last month in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19, he cautioned that the virus is likely to remain a part of everyday life.
Norway is currently seeing a record-breaking infection wave, with 8,385 COVID-19 cases registered in the past 24 hours, the highest so far in the course of the pandemic. Overall, Norway has seen 412,000 cases, with over 1,300 deaths.