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NORWAY

Smugglers to Norway cause strain on Sweden

Police in western Sweden are kept busy by a large number of illegal shipments of alcohol and cigarettes, believed to be bound for Norway. Despite a great strain on the system, Sweden is obliged to stop the shipments before they reach the Norwegian border.

Smugglers to Norway cause strain on Sweden

“We have seen a large increase of these kinds of cases lately,” said judge Sverker Tell of the Uddevalla district court to local paper Bohusläningen.

The smugglers, of which twenty in the last two weeks have come from Poland, are driving minivans filled to the brim with thousands of litres of alcohol and cigarettes believed to be bound for the Norwegian black market, according to the paper.

“We have no proof that they are headed for Norway. They don’t really want to talk when we apprehend them,” said Ander Ragnesten at the Uddevalla police.

However, so far everything points to Norway being the destination for the heavily loaded buses. With an increased tax on alcohol, raised by 7 percent over 2011 and 2 per cent at the beginning of 2012 there is a market for cheap booze coming in through Sweden from Poland.

Just last week, seven persons were detained in Swedish town Ljungskile with two vehicles filled to the brim with tobacco and spirits, and according to the paper, the local court is kept busy trying to deal with the cases.

This means an added stress on the Swedish authorities, as the smugglers have to be kept in custody in Sweden pending the investigation. A convicted smuggler will then be sentenced to between three and six months in prison, dependent on how large a consignment was being moved, which also is a strain on Sweden.

However, despite the smuggling being bound for Norway, the Swedish police can’t just let them pass through and tip off the Norwegians’ counterparts.

“You could think that this should happen, but at the same time it is the duty of the police to act when a crime is being committed, so we can’t just let it be,” said Tell to the paper.

And according to the police, it is a question of organized crime on a large scale. One of the reasons that the police are stopping so many more is that police have learned how the smugglers are operating.

“Police are active and know what to look for. These are big bulky shipments, they are not easy to camouflage,” said Ragnesten to the paper.

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NORWAY

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

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