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Norway’s Christmas Omicron outbreak largest outside South Africa – authorities

Louise Restaurant & Bar in Aker Brygge is pictured after a person visiting her for a Christmas dinner was diagnosed with the omicron variant of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Oslo, Norway on December 2, 2021. Ole Berg -Rusten / NTB / via REUTERS

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OSLO, December 3 (Reuters) – At least 13 people in Oslo have been infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus following a corporate Christmas party described as a “super-broadcast event”, and the number could reach more than 60 cases, authorities said on Friday.

The outbreak took place during a Christmas party on November 26 hosted by renewable energy company Scatec, which operates in South Africa, where the variant was first detected.

“This party was a big-ticket event,” Preben Aavitsland, senior physician at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, told Reuters by email.

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“Our working hypothesis is that at least half of the 120 attendees were infected with the Omicron variant during the party. This makes it, so far, the largest Omicron outbreak outside of South Africa. . “

In addition to those infected at the party, Aavitsland said, two people living on the country’s west coast and two people in quarantine at Oslo airport have been confirmed as carriers of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The outbreak has led the Norwegian government to reintroduce some nationwide restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. Read more

Across Europe, companies are canceling Christmas party plans due to the emergence of the Omicron variant. Read more

PARTY

The first person in Oslo confirmed to be infected had attended the party, where at least one employee had just returned from South Africa. All participants were fully vaccinated and had tested negative before the event.

“Health authorities have confirmed 12 more cases of Omicron in Oslo after an outbreak,” the city of Oslo said in a statement. “So far, 13 cases of Omicron have been confirmed after sequencing. More cases are expected.”

Health officials said those infected had so far shown mild symptoms, with none having been hospitalized.

“It is still too early to say whether the clinical picture of the disease is different in Omicron infections than in Delta infections,” said Aavitsland.

“None of the patients presented with severe symptoms; none were hospitalized. However, this is not unexpected given the young age of the participants.”

Scatec said it took advice from authorities throughout the pandemic. He also said his goal was to take care of his employees and limit the spread of the virus.

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Editing by Terje Solsvik and Richard Chang

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.