Europe

‘It’s okay to be scared’: Norway PM holds children-only COVID-19 press conference

Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg during a press conference for children in Oslo, Norway, 16 March 2020. Source: NTB SCANPIX

Norway’s Prime Minister has sought to reassure children worried about the coronavirus by answering their questions at a special children-only press conference.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg on Monday held a children-only press conference on the coronavirus, answering questions submitted by worried kids across the country in an effort to allay their fears. 

With adult journalists not allowed in, Ms Solberg and two of her ministers took dozens of questions from kids around Norway about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Norway has invoked emergency powers to close a wide range of public and private institutions, including schools and kindergartens, in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus.

“It has been special days ... Many children think it is scary,” Ms Solberg said at the beginning of the press conference.

“It is OK to be scared when so many things happen at the same time.”

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg during a children-only press conference on the coronavirus.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg during a children-only press conference on the coronavirus.
AAP

Ms Solberg and her ministers then answered questions posted via children’s television program NRK Super and children’s paper Aftenposten Junior, such as: ‘can I have a birthday party?’, ‘can I visit my grandparents after I went to a shopping centre?’, ‘how long does it take to make a vaccine?’ and ’what can I do to help?’.

Most children in Norway are currently at home and are refraining from meeting friends and relatives, especially elderly ones. 

“By being home, you are helping other people not be contaminated and get sick. It is important for those who already have a disease or who are very old,” Ms Solberg said.

When fielding a question about birthday parties, the Prime Minister replied: “If somebody has a birthday in the class, everybody should ring them and sing happy birthday!”.

The press conference was hailed by World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as a “great initiative”.

“Educating children and responding to their questions on #COVID19 can help reduce their anxiety and address their uncertainty during this difficult time,” Dr Tedros tweeted. 

Ms Solberg ended the press conference by telling kids “just because you aren’t at school, [it] doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn things”.

“It’s a bit fun to learn,” she said.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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