Politics

Minister of Health wants the Faroe Islands off Norway’s red list – Foreign sailors will no longer be counted in Faroese statistics

Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen, Minister of Health (Image credits: Sverri Egholm)
Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen, Minister of Health (Image credits: Sverri Egholm)

On Friday, Kaj Leo Holm Johannesen, Minister of Health participated in a meeting between the Nordic health ministers, where they discussed the COVID-19 situation and how they are dealing with it.

As previously reported, Norway placed the Faroe Islands on the red list back in August, and discouraged any Norwegian citizen from travelling to the Faroe Islands. At the meeting, Minister Johannesen said that this was causing trouble for Faroe Islanders working in Norway, and he directly asked the Norwegian Health Minister to get the Faroe Islands off the red list again.

– That the Faroe Islands are on this list makes it unnecessarily difficult for our sailors and other Faroe Islanders working in Norway, Minister Johannesen says.

Most of the Faroe Islands’ current active cases are Russian sailors from the vessel Yantarnyy, and earlier this summer other sailors from the Lithuanian cargo ship Cassiopea and Russian trawler Karelia have made up a large part of the country’s active cases. This, many have pointed out, can create a problem for the Faroe Islands, as the high infection numbers can be misleading.

But on Wednesday it was announced that foreign sailors will no longer be counted in the Faroese statistics unless they step on Faroese soil.

– On the advice of the Danish State Serum Institute, we will now be using the method that many other countries are using when counting positive cases. This means that crews on foreign vessels who test positive for COVID-19 will only be counted in the Faroese statistics, if they step on Faroese soil, chief medical officer Lars Fodgaard Møller told Portal.fo on Thursday.

As an example, of the 29 infected crew members aboard the Yantarnyy who tested positive on 23 August, only the two sailors who were hospitalized at the National Hospital would have been counted in the Faroese statistics. The other 27 never left the vessel, hence they would not have been included in the statistics.

The chief medical officer would pass on the number of infections aboard the vessel to the State Serum Institute, including in his report which flag the vessel was sailing under, and the cases would be registered internationally. The infection numbers will not be affected retroactively, he said.

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