When Norway reclassified COVID-19 as a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), it did not mean health officials in this country thought the virus was as ordinary as flu. 

On Sept. 25, the Norwegian government lifted all COVID-19 restrictions and allowed its community back to normal operations after 561 days of the harshest measures the country employed. 

But rumors have also sparked after a Norwegian media outlet VG reported its interview with the assistant director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH/FHI), Mr. Geir Bukholm, that the government saw the lethal virus as regular flu.

“The coronavirus thus joins the ranks of other respiratory diseases such as colds and seasonal flu,” the report said, according to Newsweek

However, as a representative of NIPH confirmed, it has never perceived the threats from COVID-19 as minor as a painful but short-term illness like flu. 

“It is not correct that the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has claimed that ‘COVID-19 is no more dangerous than ordinary flu,'” the NIPH representative said, debunking the rumors as “misinterpretation” of the original report.

“Our position, as stated in the news article, is that at this point in the pandemic we must start approaching COVID-19 as one of several respiratory diseases circulating with seasonal variation,” the representative added.

“This means that the control measures that will be applicable for various respiratory diseases will require the same level of societal preparedness,” the person explained.

On Sept. 24, when Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg announced that all restrictions were being removed, she continued to urge more people to get vaccinated for their safety, acknowledging the remaining threats from coronavirus.

“Even though everyday life is now back to normal for most people, the pandemic is not over,” Solberg said, according to Reuters. “People will still get sick and, therefore, it is important that everyone gets vaccinated.”

She urged further that those infected with COVID-19 still have to be in self-isolation to prevent the virus from spreading. Failing to remain in quarantine is still classified as a criminal offense. According to helsenorg COVID-19 certificates are no longer accepted at events in Norway, although they are still accepted abroad.

Restaurants and nightclubs have reopened, and culture and sports arenas are allowed 100% capacity.

The country of 5.3 million people has had nearly 70% of its population fully vaccinated, with around 76% having received at least one dose.

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