Testing, symptoms and infection control

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 are unsure whether you have symptoms of a coronavirus infection, you should get tested.

COVID-19, a cold, influenza or allergy?

The symptoms caused by the coronavirus resemble those seen with the flu and can be difficult to distinguish between. Hence, the rule of thumb now 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 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 weak, you should stay at home until your general condition has improved and you have not had a fever for 24 hours.

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

Who should or must be tested for the coronavirus?

When should you undergo testing?

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH / FHI) recommends that anyone who suspects they might be infected by the coronavirus is given the opportunity to be tested. Those that should get tested are:

  • Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19, irrespective of vaccination
  • Non-vaccinated members of the same household or similar close contacts to a person with a confirmed infection.
  • Other non-vaccinated close contacts

In connection with larger outbreaks, regular testing is recommended. This is assessed and decided by the municipality.

When must you undergo testing?

Testing for the coronavirus is in some situations regulated by law. The following must therefore be tested:

  • Anyone who is under a testing regime after being defined as a close contact of a person with a confirmed coronavirus infection and develop symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Anyone arriving in Norway after having visited a red, dark red, purple or grey country/area and are not fully vaccinated not have had COVID-19 during the preceding six months.
  • Anyone who is in travel quarantine and develop symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Anyone who is in travel quarantine can take a PCR-based test after 3 days.

Testing of children

Testing of children can be considered in consultation with the parents, for example if the child develops symptoms of COVID-19 after having been in close contact with a person with a confirmed coronavirus infection.

How do I book an appointment for testing?

The municipalities are responsible for testing. 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, refefr to the webpages of the different private ventures.

Test results

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 be contacted by the local municipality and placed in isolation. See what applies to your close contacts here.

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 think you were infected.

You CAN test for antibodies:

  • If you have only been tested for the coronavirus abroad, as the result will not be 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 (See symptoms here).
  • If you have taken  one or two doses of the vaccine.

How do I test for antibodies?

To take a test for antibodies get an antibody test, 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. 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.

Rapid tests

Self-test

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, such as when following a testing regime for close contacts. In these situations the self-test will be provided by your municipality.If the municipality does not have sufficient tests available, other types of tests must be used.

Refer to the website of your local municipality to see how and where to get hold of the self-tests.

If you test positive on a self-test you will need to 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.

Antigen-based rapid tests

An antigen-based rapid test is a test 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 laboratory 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 published 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.

Infection and infection control

The coronavirus spreads by droplet transmission, via direct contact and indirect contact. The virus is found in small droplets in the mouth and nose of an infected person and becomes airborne through sneezing or coughing, talking or singing. 

The typical route of transmission occurs when you inhale the airborne virus or when your hands come into contact with the virus and you then touch your face. The virus is transferred by direct contact for example when a healthy person shakes hands with an infected person. The virus is transferred by indirect contact for example when an infected person with virus on their hands touches a door handle that is later touched by a healthy person.

Transmission occurs just when you turn ill and at the beginning of the course of the disease. There are clear indications that the risk of transmission is relatively high one to two days before the onset of symptoms.

How to prevent infection

Here's what you can do to help prevent infection:

  • Take a test and stay at home if you dvelop symptoms of COVID-19
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and luke-warm water, or use an alcohol-based disinfectant
  • Cough into a paper tissue or the crook of your elbow
  • Find alternatives to shaking hands and hugging.

Face mask

Wearling a face mask is not a recommendation on a national level. A recommendation to wear face masks can be introduced in municipalities with a high level of infection – as one measure to limit transmission.

Face masks cannot replace other measures for infection control, such as keeping a distance.

Refer to the website of your local municipality, or the municipality that you are travelling to, for information on whether wearing a face mask is recommended locally.