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Norway Uni pulls coronavirus message citing ‘poorly developed’ US health system

One of Norway's leading universities has been forced to change a message warning overseas students of the US's "poorly developed health services", after it was dragged into a storm of criticism on social media.

Norway Uni pulls coronavirus message citing 'poorly developed' US health system
Norwegian University of Science and Technology is one of Norway's leading universities. Photo: NTNU
Over the weekend, the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology posted a message on its Facebook page for its students on international postings,  advising them to heed the latest advice from Norway's foreign ministry on the coronavirus pandemic, and return back to Norway. 
 
“This applies especially,” the message said, “if you are staying in a country with poorly developed health services and infrastructure and/or collective infrastructure, for example the USA.” 
 
But on Monday, after a storm of social media criticism, the message was changed, stripping out all mention of the US. 
 
Anne Dahl, communications advisor for the university's rector, told state broadcaster NRK that the university had decided to change the post because the furore was distracting people from the serious underlying message. 
 
“We do not want the expression of a single phrase to overshadow important information, so the specific wording about the US was removed,” she wrote in an email. 
 
The original wording was quickly picked up by Twitter commentators in the US. 
 

It then got viral news coverage, with both conservative outlets like Fox News, and left-of-centre newspapers like the UK's Independent picking up the story. 
 
Several people flocked to the original post to attack the university in the comments. 
 
 
 
 
The post was then changed on Monday to remove all reference to the US. 
 
 
 

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COVID-19

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home. 

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