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When you 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.


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. With mild illness, the symptoms can also be similar to those from allergies.

Current knowledge suggests that people are most contagious in the days before and just after symptoms appear. When symptoms disappear, they quickly become less contagious.

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

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

For some people, the disease can also cause a wide range of other symptoms such as nausea / vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, rashes and mental changes such as confusion and dizziness.

Read more about the symptoms and course of COVID-19:

When you have an acute respiratory tract infection

  • 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.
  • You will find practical information about how, where and when you can be tested on your municipality's website.
  • You must stay at home until you get a test result AND you are feeling well. The exception is if you have been tested without suspicion of COVID-19, for example if you are taking part in a research project. For children who have tested negative, it is important to observe their general condition to decide whether the child can return to school/ childcare. Mild residual symptoms after a respiratory tract infection (e.g. runny nose) are not so important. The main rule is that people awaiting a test result should stay at home until they get a result AND they feel well.  
  • Your closest contacts do not need to be in quarantine while you wait for a test result (including those who work in the healthcare service) but they should monitor their own symptoms. 
  • If you test positive, you shall go into isolation (and be followed up by the healthcare service). Your closest contacts shall be in quarantine.
  • If the test shows that you have COVID-19, you must monitor your own condition. If you have difficulty breathing or develop other acute symptoms that you would otherwise have sought medical attention for, it is important that you contact the healthcare service. Just because you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19 shall not stop you getting the help you need. 
  • 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 (116117).  
  • For acute, life-threatening illness, call 113. 

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.

People with 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. People with known allergies who develop additional symptoms that are typical for COVID-19 should be tested. This is especially true for any new fever, cough and breathing difficulties, loss of sense of taste or smell, sore throat or feeling unwell. 

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

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.