Testing and symptoms

Person sneezing

Symptoms of a coronavirus infection

Symptoms of the coronavirus can be a fever, coughing, breathing difficulties, headache, lethargy, reduced sense of smell and taste, and muscle pain. A sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and sneezing may also be symptoms in some cases.

If you develop symptoms of a coronavirus infection, you should stay at home and arrange for testing. This also applies if you are vaccinated.

COVID-19, a cold or influenza?

The symptoms caused by the coronavirus resemble those seen with the flu or a regular cold, and can be difficult to distinguish between. Hence, the rule of thumb is to take a test for the coronavirus once you experience symptoms of a respiratory infection.

Children who develop symptoms

Children with a runny or stuffy nose only, or with chronic respiratory tract symptoms, do not need to stay at home. Children who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home and not go to school/kindergarten until their general health condition has improved. They can go back to school/kindergarten when only mild symptoms linger, such as a runny nose or a mild cough.

Refer to this flow diagram at FHI

When can young persons and adults return to school/work?

Young persons and adults should take a negative test for the coronavirus prior too returning to school or work, If you have substantial symptoms and your general condition is reduced, you should stay at home until your general health condition has improved and you have not had a fever for 24 hours (without having taken antipyretics against fever). 

When only mild symptoms are observed, symptoms that disappear after only one day – you can return to school or work. See the flow diagram at FHI

Testing

Anyone who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should take a test and stay at home. This also applies if you are vaccinated.

In connection with larger outbreaks, regular testing can be used. This is assessed, decided, and organized by the municipality.

Anyone who test positive for the coronavirus must enter isolation. See the rules that apply here.

What type of test should I use?

Three different types of tests are being used in Norway:  PCR-based test, an antigen-based rapid-test, or a self-test.

In certain situations, such as when travelling, there might be specific requirements on which tests to use. If you have symptoms, all test types are approved to test for the coronavirus.

Chech the website of your local municipality to find out which test they can offer.

Testing when entering Norway

As a general rule, all travellers must take a test for the coronavirus upon arrival to Norway

Read more about testing when entering Norway.

Testing of children

Testing of children can be considered in consultation with the parents, for example if the child develops symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with a person with a confirmed coronavirus infection. Mass testing of children and adolescents might be relevant in municipalities with a high level of infection.

Read more about testing of close contacts.

Self-tests

A self-test is an antigen-based rapid test that you can take yourself. This test is in most situations comparable to the other test methods.

You can use a self-test if you develop symptoms of a respiratory tract infection, a close contact to someone with a confirmed coronavirus infection or if there is an outbreak at your school.

The municipality will decide whether a free-of-charge self-test will be made available to you.

Please note that the result of a self-teste will not be reported and entered into MSIS, will not be included in the national infection surveillance nor can it be used as documentation for a COVID-19 certificate.

What to do if you test positive for the coronavirus on a self-test?

You can assume that you have a coronavirus infection if you test positive on a self-test. You will then have to enter isolation.

You should also:

  • Register on the website of your municipality that you have tested positive.
  • Inform your close contacts. For a definition of close contacts, see here.  
  • Refer to the website of your local municipality to see if you can take a PCR-based test to confirm the test result.
  • If you have received the third booster dose for the coronavirus or you have received two doses of the vaccine and in addition have had a coronavirus infection during the last three months, you do not need to take a confirmatory PCR-based test.

How to register a positive self-test

To allow for infection surveillance, you can In some municipalities register a positive self-test for yourself and your children.

Please refer to the webpage of your local municipality.

Confirmatory PCR-based test

You do not need to take a confirmatory PCR-based test if you have received the third booster dose for the coronavirus or you have received two doses of the vaccine and in addition have had a coronavirus infection during the last three months.

A confirmatory PCR-based test or an antigen-based rapid-tests taken by health personnel at a testing station is recommended for the following persons:

  • Persons with primary or secondary immunodeficiency e.g. after organ transplants, as well as immunosuppressed persons.
  • Children and youth 0-16 years of age.
  • Non-vaccinated and partly vaccinated persons who have not received the third booster dose and who need the test result for their COVID-19 certificate.

A confirmatory PCR-based test is also recommended for those who need health where this confirmation will affect their diagnostics or treatment.

For more information related to the prioritisation and use of self-tests in the municipalities, refer to Helsedirektoratet.no (in Norwegian).

What if the PCR-test is positive?

You will have to enter isolation if f the PCR-result comes back positive (coronavirus detected). You will be responsible for informing your close contacts of your positive test result yourself. You can contact your municipality if you need help to assess who your close contacts are.

What if the PCR-test is negative?

You can end your isolation if the PCR-result comes back negative. Even if the test was negative, you should remember to follow the measures for infection control, pay attention to any symptoms developing and stay at home if you do not feel well. 

Advice when purchasing a self-test

There are several types of self-tests available. You can easily buy a self-test at a pharmacy, in the grocery store and via the web. There are a vast number of tests available, and the health authorities cannot give specific advice on which test or which brand to choose.

When buying a self-test you should check if:

  • the box is CE-labelled with a four-digit number (CExxxx)
  • user-instructions are in Norwegian

The CE-mark shows that the test meets the requirements set for quality and safety. You can read more about CE-marking and the EU directive at Forbrukerrådet (in Norwegian) or at the website of the European Commission.

Self-tests available in Norway must be both CE-marked and offer user instructions in Norwegian. As an example, you can find tests that meet these requirements at a pharmacy. Purchasing the test where advice and guidance on how to use the test is also available is recommended.

Advice for storing the self-test

The self-tests will not withstand below-zero temperatures and should bot be stored at temperatures below 2°C. The self-test should be brought to room temperature prior to use

How to use a self-test

You can find the video subtitled in a variety of languages here (youtube.com). 

PCR-based tests and antigen-based rapid-tests

How do I book an appointment for testing?

The municipalities are responsible for PCR-based testing. Please refer to the website of your local municipality for information on how testing is organised in your area.

Find the website of your local municipality here.

Cost

The municipality will offer testing free of charge. Refer to the website of your local municipality for further information.

Taking a test is not free of charge at a private venture. For further information, refer to the webpages of the different private ventures.

Test results from a PCR-based test

If possible, you should log in at Helsenorge.no to find your test results. The result of your test for the coronavirus will be available as soon as the test has been analysed and reported.

If you are unable to log on to helsenorge.no you will only be contacted if your test comes back positive. Some laboratories may provide alternative solutions other than helsenorge.no for presenting your test result, in which case you will be informed about the routines.

If your test result comes back positive, you will have to enter isolation. If you have tested positive for the coronavirus you will be responsible for informing your close contacts yourself. You can contact your municipality if you need help to assess who your close contacts are.

Antigen-based rapid tests

An antigen-based rapid test is the same as a self-test that is taken by health personnel, for example at a testing station.

The result of an antigen-based rapid test is registered in the same way as for the standard PCR-based test.

The rapid test can deliver a test result within 20 minutes. The local municipality will decide whether you will receive your test result at the test station directly or whether you should go home and then be contacted with the test result. You may also have to wait for the test result to be made available at Helsenorge.no.

If your test result comes back positive, you will have to enter isolation and you will be responsible for informing your close contacts yourself. You can contact your municipality if you need help to assess who your close contacts are.