Norway Christmas Party Causes Second Largest Omicron Outbreak in the World

A corporate Christmas party in Oslo on November 26 with over one hundred participants was dubbed as a “super spreader event,” the first omicron outbreak outside Africa, where half of the attendees were expected to have contracted the new variant.

“Our working hypothesis is that at least half of the 120 participants were infected with the omicron variant during the party. This makes this, for now, the largest omicron outbreak outside South Africa,” Preben Aavitsland, a senior physician at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said.

Health authorities said Friday that at least 13 people were infected with omicron, and their numbers could rise to over 60. 

Health authorities said the people infected were so far displaying mild symptoms, with none hospitalized.

“It is still too early to say whether the clinical picture of the disease is different in Omicron infections than in Delta infections,” Aavitsland said, adding that none of the patients has severe symptoms but not unexpected given their young ages.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said there was “a high vaccination coverage” in the group, and all had tested negative before the event.

The outbreak led the Norwegian government to reintroduce some nationwide restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

”It is likely that the Omicron variant will spread in Norway, and that is why the government believes in stricter measures,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said.

Across Europe, companies have canceled Christmas party plans due to the emergence of the omicron variant.

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