Testing and symptoms
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 go for a test 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.
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.
Who should or must be tested for the coronavirus?
Anyone who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should take a test and stay at home. This also applies if you are vaccinated.
Read more about testing of close contacts here.
In connection with larger outbreaks, regular testing is recommended. 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.
Testing when entering Norway
As a general rule, all travellers must take a corona test upon arrival to 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.
How do I book an appointment for testing?
The municipalities are responsible for testing. Please refer to the website of your local municipality for information on how testing is organised in your area.
What type of test should I use?
Three different types of tests are being used: PCR-based test, an antigen-based rapid-test or a self-test. Which one to use will depend on the situation. You can use the antigen-based test or a self-test for example if your symptoms are mild or you are a non-vaccinated close contact. Get in touch with your municipality to find out which test they can offer.
If you test positive on a self-test you will need to enter isolation and take a PCR-based test within the next 24 hours. Get in touch with your local municipality to arrange for testing. You should stay at home until the test results comes back.
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.
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.
Rapid tests and 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, are non-vaccinated and a close contact to someone with a confirmed coronavirus infection or if there is an outbreak at your school.
In these situations, the self-test will be provided free-of-charge by your municipality.
The municipality will decide whether a free-of-charge self-test will be made available to you.
If you do not meet the criteria for receiving a free-of-charge self-test from the municipality, you will need to buy and pay for the test yourself. For advice on the purchase of self-test, see below.
If you test positive on a self-test you will need to go into isolation and take a PCR-based test within the next 24 hours. Get in touch with your local municipality to arrange for testing. You should stay at home until the test results comes back.
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. How the test is stored, the quality of the test and the ease of use of the test may affect to what extend you can trust the test result. 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 buuying 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.
How to use a self-test
Antigen-based rapid tests
An antigen-based rapid test is a 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 made available at Helsenorge.no.
If your test result comes back positive, you will quickly be contacted by the contact tracing team in your local municipality and placed in isolation.
Testing for antibodies
If you have had a coronavirus infection you only need one dose of vaccine to be fully vaccinated.
If you have taken a test for the coronavirus abroad, or if you think you have had an infection but have not taken a test, you can take a test to analyse the antibodies to document that you have been infected.
- If you are going to test for antibodies, you must do so before you receive the first dose of the vaccine.
- If you are going to test for antibodies, you must wait at least three weeks after taking a rapid antigen-based test or a PCR-based test abroad that confirmed an infection, or you believe you were infected.
You CAN test for antibodies:
- If you have only been tested for the coronavirus abroad, as the result will then not have been registered at helsenorge.no
- If you have a strong suspicion that you have had COVID-19 but have not been tested.
You should NOT test for antibodies:
- If you have taken an antigen-based rapid test or PCR-based test in Norway, and this test confirmed an infection (positive test). This positive test is then registered at helsenorge.no.
- If you have not had symptoms of COVID-19.
- If you have taken one or two doses of the vaccine.
How do I test for antibodies?
To take a test for antibodies, you must book an appointment with your doctor, at a municipal health center or at a private health institution. A blood sample will be taken and sent to a laboratory. After a few days, the result will be available at Helsenorge.no.
The COVID-19 certificate will turn green when you have taken one dose of the vaccine in addition to a positive test for antibodies.
You will only be charged for the deductible when you take a test for antibodies.