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In this report we present statistics that provide an overview on covid-19 among foreign-born persons living in Norway. The corona pandemic has in Norway hit foreign-born persons harder than the rest of the population. Foreign-born have more often confirmed infection and are more often hospitalized with covid-19. There is a great variation between different groups of foreign-born both in confirmed infection and in hospitalizations. Some groups are hit very hard, especially those born in Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan.
In Norway, the number of people who has received breathing support in the form of ventilator treatment for covid-19 is low, as is the number of deaths. It is therefore limited what we can say for sure about differences in ventilator treatment and death according to country of birth. Still, a relatively larger proportion of people born in Africa and Asia have received ventilator treatment compared to those born in Norway.
Covid-19 does not affect all parts of the population equally. This has significance for both the spread of infection and the outbreak management locally and nationally. In this report we have examined the degree of testing, confirmed infection, hospitalizations and deaths by country of birth for residents in Norway.
In April 2020, FHI established an emergency register, called BeredtC19, which includes the entire population in Norway. The register includes data from the MSIS/laboratory database, the National Population Register, the AA register (Employer and Employee Register) and data from the Norwegian Patient Register (NPR). From BeredtC19 we have extracted data for descriptive statistics and calculated rates per 100,000. Only residents of Norway are included in the material.
Rates for confirmed covid-19 and related hospitalizations are higher among foreign-born than among Norwegian-born residents (2312 and 136 per 100,000 versus 906 and 44 per 100,000 respectively). The proportion of the population who have been tested is somewhat lower, and the proportion of those tested who have tested positive is significantly higher among people born outside Norway than among Norwegian-born (36% and 5.9% versus 34% and 2.1% respectively). We observe an increase in the proportion of the population who have been tested among foreign born especially in December 2020 and January 2021. There are major variations between different country-of-birth groups with regard to confirmed infection, hospitalizations, proportion tested and proportion of those tested who test positive. People residing in Norway who are born in Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan have higher rates than Norwegian-born, both for hospitalization and percentage of tested persons who tested positive. The differences we observe in confirmed infections are only to a minor extent explained by differences in age, sex, municipality of residence and occupation. The numbers for deaths and requiring respiratory support are small and must be interpreted with caution. Foreign-born are slightly underrepresented for death, but overrepresented among those requiring respiratory support.
Our findings show that the level of infection and disease burden among foreign-born residents of Norway have been high, and that for some groups have been very high. We still do not know the explanation for these differences between Norwegian-born and foreign-born and between different groups of foreign-born. We have not had access to individual data on relevant socio-economic differences such as income, education, length of residence or crowded housing. Nor have we had access to data on other possible relevant factors such as movement patterns, language skills, health literacy, degree of social interaction, media habits, etc., that may influence behavior protecting against infection, compliance with official advice and regulations, or quarantine and isolation.
Both the level of infection and the disease burden seem to have been higher among foreign-born residents of Norway than the rest of the population, and especially among people born in Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan. The reasons for the differences can only to a minor extent be explained by the data we have available.