High risk groups

Elderly man sitting in a chair talking to a woman

Is the coronavirus more dangerous for some groups?

Most people who are infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus), will experience mild symptoms and fully recover from the COVID-19 disease. Some groups have an increased risk of a more severe disease, although most people in a risk group also will experience only mild symptoms. 

We should all follow the general advice by maintaining good hand and cough hygiene, and stay at home if we develop symptoms of a respiratory infection. This is especially important for people in risk groups.

The risk of serious illness increases with increasing age and underlying illness, and men have a higher risk than women. Younger persons without any known risk factors, can also experience a severe illness, but the risk is higher if they have an underlying disease.

If the level of infection in society increases persons in risk groups should live a more sheltered life.

The following advice applies to those over 18 years of age.

General advice for persons in risk groups

  • Avoid spending time with people who show signs of respiratory infection.
  • Stay at home if you are ill.
  • Remember keeping a good hand and cough hygiene. This also applies to those you live with and those visiting.
  • Make sure you have your required medicines available. Keep taking your regular medication and make changes only in agreement with your doctor.
  • If you have a forthcoming consultations or regular control you should keep the scheduled appointment unless informed otherwise by your treating institution. If in doubt, contact your doctor.
  • Going for a walk is nice in order to stay fit but choose places that are not congested.

What should you do if you become ill?

Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you feel ill and think you may have a coronavirus infection. Should you develop symptoms such as a fever, cough, shortness of breath or lethargy or a reduced general condition, contact your local health service for testing.

Should you develop a sudden onset of symptoms for which you would normally seek medical attention, it is important that you contact the health services regardless of whether you may be infected or not.

Risk groups and their relatives - NIPH (fhi.no)

Slightly increased, moderate or high risk?

Assessment of risk is done at a group level and not per individual. The level of risk will vary greatly between individuals within each group. If required, an individual assessment should be made in consultation with your doctor regarding the risk of a more serious progression.

Groups with a slightly/moderately increased risk

  • Between 65 and 69 years of age
  • Between 50 and 64 years of age and with one of the following chronic diseases:
    • chronic kidney disease chronic lung disease (other than well-regulated asthma)
    • immunosuppressant treatment such as treatment of autoimmune diseases
    • diabetes
    • chronic lung disease (other than well-regulated asthma)
    • obesity (body mass index, BMI≥35 kg/m2)
    • dementia
    • cardiovascular disease (other than a well-managed high blood pressure)
    • stroke

Persons under the age of 50 have a low risk of a serious progression of COVID-19, but for some persons with a badly managed or combinations of several underlying diseases the risk might be increased.

Groups with a moderate/high risk

  • Above 70 years of age
  • Residents in nursing homes
  • Certain serious health conditions, irrespective of age: 
    • organ transplant
    • immunodeficiency
    • hematologic cancer during the last five years
    • cancer in active phase, ongoing or recently completed treatment for cancer (in particular immunosuppressant treatment, radiation therapy to the lungs or chemotherapy). 
    • Neurological or muscular diseases that lead to reduced coughing strength or reduced lung function (e.g. ALS and cerebral palsy)
    • Downs syndrome
    • severely impaired kidney function or liver function

Based on the precautionary principle, The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has decided to include certain serious health conditions on the list of diseases that lead to an increased risk.

For further information on specific conditions or health situations, refer to the article on risk groups on the website of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Vaccination and persons in risk groups

When fully vaccinated, you will to a large extent be protected against COVID-19 and a serious course of the disease. Hence you can live as normal. The vaccination will show complete effect 1-2 weeks after you have been fully vaccinated. We do not yet know for how long this protection will last. 

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends that patients with immunodeficency are offered a third dose of the vaccine.

Read more about the third dose of the vaccine and who this applies to at fhi.no (in Norwegian).

Keep in mind that you should follow the measures for infection control even if you are vaccinated. Read more about the risk groups and vaccination here (FHI)

Persons with a weakened immune system and vaccination

Persons with a weak immune system should live a more sheltered life if the level if infection in society is high, even after having received a third dose of the vaccine. This is based on the assumption that their immune system will not build a sufficient level of protection compared to those with a healthy immune system. It is also important that close contacts and those who are part of the same household are vaccinated.

Advice for persons in risk groups who are not vaccinated nor have had COVID-19

Follow the advice given to the general population:

  • Stay at home if you are ill.
  • Remember to keep a good hand and cough hygiene.
  • Avoid spending time with people who show signs of respiratory infection.
  • Reduce your risk of contracting a respiratory infection by avoiding congested places and by keeping a distance to others.
  • Make sure you have your required medicines available. Keep taking your regular medication and make changes only in agreement with your doctor.
  • Follow your consultations or regular controls as planned.

Children and youth in risk groups

Both national and international experience show that children to a lesser extent than adults develop an illness due to the coronavirus, and there is seldom a need for hospitalization. This also applies to children with chronic diseases. There is little evidence to suggest that the risk of developing a serious illness is higher for these children compared to healthy children.

On a global level there are very few reports of children with COVID-19 who have died, and very rarely for healthy children.

Kindergarten and school for children and youth in risk groups

Some children with a serious disease may be more vulnerable. In these cases, kindergarten and school adaptations can be considered. This generally applies to children with rare and serious underlying medical conditions. For more information about these groups and COVID-19 in children and youth, visit:

Advice for persons who receive home services and their relatives

Those who receive health and care services at home and their relatives/caregivers should follow the advice given to the general population and possibly the advice given to risk groups.

You can live as normal at home and give the care you usually do. Wash hands frequently and carefully with soap and lukewarm water. 

Persons with symptoms of a respiratory infection should not visit. 

More information from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health: Health and care services at home and infection control for COVID-19 (in Norwegian).

As per guidelines from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, employees from the municipality's health and care services should follow  when assisting a patient without confirmed or suspected infection and who is not defined as a close contact or with symptoms related to the coronavirus.

Should you develop respiratory symptoms, your doctor and possibly the home care service will plan further follow-up in consultation with you.

Visits to a healthcare institution

Visits to hospitals, nursing homes or other health institutions should be facilitated as far as possible.

Certain conditions apply for visits to healthcare institutions.

The need of each individual person to receive visitors should be assessed relative to the risk of spreading the infection, the individual risk of a more severe progression of COVID-19, the local infection situation and the capacity at the institution for welcoming visitors.

All visits should be carried out in line with the national recommendations for infection control. Local rules may also apply, relative to the local level of infection in the specific municipality. Check the website of the relevant municipality.

If you have been travelling abroad, you cannot visit a hospital or nursing home until 10 days have passed from when your arrived back in Norway. This applies even for visits to green areas only.

The Norwegian Directorate of Health has published recommendations for visits to health and care institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic (in Norwegian). Here you can find further information, details and assessment criteria on how to carry out visits.

Visits to and physical contact at nursing homes

The residents can be in physical contact with non-vaccinated visitors at nursing home where the majority of residents are vaccinated.

In addition to non-vaccinated visitors defined as close contacts, vaccinated visitors can also be in contact with the resident. The resident should be allowed to define who their close contacts are.

The number of visitors should not be higher than what the national and municipal measures allow or. Nor should the number of visitors be higher than to allow for keeping a distance.

Some residents at nursing homes will not receive the vaccine, either on the basis of their own free will or due to specific health reasons. It is therefore important to maintain good routines for infection control to protect these residents.

Do you have questions about corona and need someone to talk to?

Several user organisations are now expanding their staffing to be able to answer questions from the general population and from persons with chronic diseases: