The way forward
The winter will give rise to new national and local outbreaks of COVID-19, and the risk of restriction fatigue and low compliance levels could increase if the measures are not perceived as proportionate. Infection control is not a theoretical exercise; measures only help if they are practised. At the New Year, seven out of ten municipalities had few or no infection cases, and the introduction of red tier restrictions at a national level was considered unreasonable in many parts of the country. We therefore believe that the level of restrictions in day-care centres and schools must be adapted to the local infection situation and the different age groups.
We believe that the level of restrictions in day-care centres and schools must be adapted to the local infection situation and the different age groups
The new British mutation is assumed to be a more contagious variant of the virus, but a recent review of data suggests that children and adolescents are still less likely to be infected than adults (14). Nevertheless, we must be prepared for the fact that new mutations may push up transmission rates and that more stringent infection control measures may be needed.
A new report examines the effects of the pandemic on the health of children and adolescents (15). The report shows that vulnerable groups may suffer more during the pandemic than young people in general, which is a concern for the Norwegian Ombudsperson for Children, Save the Children and the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs. Both the pandemic itself and the infection control measures are considered to be contributory factors.
More active testing should also be considered in order to reduce the quarantine period for schools
The current quarantine rules are challenging. Data show that there is little risk of secondary transmission in schools and day-care centres, and that the risk of infection from non-close contacts is low. For migrant workers, the mandatory quarantine period has recently been reduced for those who test negative for COVID-19 at the end of the period. More active testing should also be considered in order to reduce the quarantine period for schools. Alternatively, consideration can be given to limiting quarantine to pupils who have been sitting near the infected pupil in the classroom, as opposed to the entire cohort. In the current situation, schools should only be physically closed for short periods in the event of complex local outbreaks. In order to create an evidence base for future infection control, we also need planned measures that can be compared systematically.