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When you are sick or suspect that you have COVID-19 disease

Published Updated

If you are sick, stay at home. You should be tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

If you are sick, stay at home. You should be tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19.


 

Flowchart for when children should stay at home
Illustration: NIPH

The most common symptoms for COVID-19 are also common for other respiratory tract infections like colds and influenza. Many have a cough and / or fever. It is also common to have loss of sense of smell or taste, headache, lethargy and aching muscles. Some people go on to develop breathing difficulties. 

People are most contagious in the days before and just after symptoms appear.  This applies to SARS-CoV-2 and a range of other respiratory tract viruses.

See advice for children:

Advice when you suspect you are infected

  • Stay at home if you are unwell/ have newly-arisen respiratory tract symptoms (fever, cough, difficulties in breathing, headache, lethargy, loss of sense of smell and taste, muscle aches, sore throat, etc.)
  • You should be tested for coronavirus if you have newly arisen respiratory tract symptoms, have been assessed by a doctor and are recommended to be tested (even if you do not have symptoms), are a close contact to someone who is confirmed to be infected, or have arrived from a red country/region during the last 10 days. If you are in doubt whether you should be tested, go to koronasjekk.no.
  • Adolescents and adults who have had other symptoms, such as headaches, but are otherwise in good general condition, can observe their symptoms at home. If the symptoms quickly go away on their own, you do not necessarily need to take a test. Adolescents and adults who are not tested should be at home until they are symptom-free.You will find practical information about how, where and when you can be tested on your municipality's website. See the section "About your coronavirus test" below for information on what happens after you have taken a test.

If you are sick and need medical attention, or need health advice, contact your doctor by telephone or electronically. 

  • If you need more acute medical help and cannot reach your doctor, call the emergency out-of-hours clinic (116 117).  
  • For acute, life-threatening illness, call 113. 

Symptoms of COVID-19, colds and allergies

The table below can help you to distinguish COVID-19 from other respiratory tract infections and from allergies.

Table 1. Typical symptoms of COVID-19, colds and allergies.

 

Symptoms

Acute respiratory tract infections

Allergies

COVID-19

Colds

Influenza

Fever

Main symptom*

Rare

Common

Rare

Cough

Main symptom*

Common

Common

Sometimes

Breathing difficulties

Main symptom*

No

Rare

Sometimes

Headache

Common

Sometimes

Common

Sometimes

Lethargy

Common

Sometimes

Common

Sometimes

Loss of sense of smell and/or taste

Common

Sometimes

Sometimes

Sometimes

Muscle ache

Common

Sometimes

Common

Rare

Sore throat

Sometimes (common among children)

Common

Common

Rare (but itching can be present)

Runny or blocked nose

Sometimes

Common

Sometimes

Common

Sneezing

Rare

Common

Rare

Common

* The main symptoms are defined based on WHO's criteria for suspected COVID-19

How to distinguish between COVID-19 and allergy

Common symptoms of allergy include tearing, itchy and red eyes, a runny nose, nasal congestion and sneezing. These symptoms are less common with COVID-19 (less than 5 per cent of cases). Allergy medicine will often relieve the symptoms.

COVID-19 is not suspected for a person with typical allergy symptoms, without a fever, a new cough or breathing difficulties, loss of sense of taste or smell, sore throat or feeling unwell. People with known allergies who develop additional symptoms that are typical for COVID-19 should be tested. 

People with known allergies can sometimes have a cough and / or breathing difficulties, especially if they also have asthma. Any changes from their usual symptoms should be considered when assessing them for COVID-19. 

About your coronavirus test

When you take a test for coronavirus, the sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. Normally the answer comes within 1-2 days. Sometimes it takes longer.

Contact a doctor if you become ill or need medical help while waiting for an answer.

What should you do while waiting for your test results?

If you have been tested because you have had common symptoms of coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath or lost sense of taste or smell), you should stay home until you have received your test results. You should not go to work or school, you should not take public transport or visit public places, and you should keep an extra distance from everyone other than those you live with. Those you live with do not have to stay at home, even if they work in the healthcare service.

If you are in quarantine and have been tested because you have had common symptoms of coronavirus (fever, cough, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell), follow the rules for isolation. The rules for isolation are stricter than for quarantine. Those you live with must be in quarantine until you have received your test result.

If you have taken the test without having COVID-19 symptoms and without being exposed to infection, you do not need to stay home until you have received a test result. This could be, for example, if you take the test because you are involved in a research project, are going to visit an institution, or need to take a test to be able to travel.

How to get your test results

After 1-2 days, you can find the answer to your test on Helsenorge.no:

If you have coronavirus, it will say that the result is positive. If you do not have coronavirus, it will say that the result is negative.

If the test shows that you have coronavirus (positive test result)

If the test shows that you have coronavirus, you shall be in isolation and the municipality will call you to arrange what we call "contact tracing".

Contact tracing is important to be able to stop the infection, and everyone you live with and everyone you have been close to must therefore be in quarantine.

The municipality has a duty of confidentiality. It is important that you understand each other, so ask if you have any questions. You can ask for an interpreter if it is difficult to understand the language. The interpreter service is free.

If the test shows that you do not have coronavirus (negative test result)

  • If you took the test because you had symptoms of coronavirus, you can go back to work or school when you have no fever and are feeling well. A slight cough or similar that remains is ok.
  • If you took the test while in quarantine, you must complete the quarantine, even if you feel well.

See also:

Information for the general public

For general advice about coronavirus: our topic page and helsenorge.no 

Information helpline for questions about coronavirus: 815 55 015 (weekdays 08-15.30)

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration has answers to many frequently asked questions about travelling to Norway, and a helpline 23351600 that is open on weekdays from 10:00-14:00. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also has answers to many frequently asked questions.

If you need acute medical attention, contact your doctor. If you cannot reach your doctor, contact the emergency out-of-hours clinic on 116117. If life is in danger, call 113.

History

01.12.2020: Adjusted title and restructured content in article

14.09.2020: Updated text according to Norwegian version. Edited text in "when you have a respiratory tract infection". Removed "when household members have respiratory tract infection" and "when children haverespiratory tract infection" because there was much repetition.

08.09.2020: Changes in "When a household member has an acute respiratory tract infection"; inserted a lenk to "When you have an acute respiratory tract infection" for detalils on how to act if household member develop symptoms of respiratory tract infection.

04.09.2020: Changes to paragraph about "when you have a respiratory tract infection": It is recommended that anyone with newly-arisen respiratory tract symptoms without a known cause should be tested, and they should stay home until they receive a test result. With a negative test result, you can return to work/ school when you are in good general condition (i.e. you feel well and have no fever), even though you have some symptoms.  

28.08.2020: Section about Children with respiratory tract infections has been updated.

27.08.2020: Changed from "children under 10 years" to "Children of primary school age or younger." Added that "children can return to school/childcare when their general condition is good /back to normal for the child."

24.08.2020: Updated to reflect the current Norwegian version

24.06.2020: Replaced the advice about "stay at home until a day after the symptoms have passed" to "stay at home until the symptoms have passed" for people with respiratory tract infection symptoms.

04.05.2020
Shortened first paragraph under "When you have an acute respiratory tract infection."

30.04.2020
General changes as per Norwegian text.

06.04.2020
Updated according to changes in Norwegian text. Changes throughout.

02.04.2020

Added link to test criteria page which is now translated to English. Removed the paragraph about the test criteria.

22.03.2020

Updated test criteria and added section about "Why can people with symptoms but who are not tested for coronavirus go back to work after one symptom-free day, while people with confirmed COVID-19 must wait for seven symptom-free days?"

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Facts

Coronavirus

SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the virus that is causing the outbreak of COVID-19 disease.

The virus is related to another coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002/2003 but is not the same virus.