Hopp til innhold

Definitions of COVID-19 cases and close contacts

Published Updated

Here are the definitions of suspected, probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19, and definition of close contacts.

Here are the definitions of suspected, probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19, and definition of close contacts.

Suspected COVID-19

A person with acute respiratory tract infection and one or more of the following clinical criteria; fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of smell/taste, or who is considered by a doctor to have suspected COVID-19.

Probable COVID-19

A close contact to a confirmed case who meets the clinical criteria for COVID-19.

The category is used when it is not possible to carry out testing, or if the test result is delayed and the probability of infection is high.

A probable case should be handled in the same way as a confirmed case. Household members and equivalent close contacts should be in quarantine, but it is not necessary for contact tracing of other close contacts.

Confirmed COVID-19

A person with COVID-19 confirmed by RT-PCR test.

Close contacts 

You are considered to be a "close contact" if

  • you have been in contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 disease less than 48 hours before symptom onset (for people without symptoms: before the test) AND
  • the contact has been
    • less than two metres away for more than 15 minutes OR
    • in direct physical contact OR
    • in direct contact with secretions.

This does not apply when recommended personal protective equipment is used in the healthcare service.

Anyone who can document that they have had COVID-19 disease using an approved method during the last six months, are exempt from quarantine duty.

During contact tracing, consider the length and degree of physical proximity and use of protective equipment when assessing whether to define someone as a close contact or not. The risk of infection increases the longer you have been together, the less air volume you have shared, the more the infected person has coughed, sneezed, shouted or sung, and the closer to the onset of symptoms the contact took place.

The most exposed close contacts are "household members and equivalent close contacts". This usually means those who:

  • Live in the same household.
  • Have had similar close contact as in a household (for example, boyfriend/girlfriend, nearest colleagues in an office, the same cohort in childcare or school up to and including the 4th grade).
  • Have cared for the person with confirmed COVID-19 disease or had similar close physical contact, without having used recommended protective equipment.

About this page

Skip to content on this page



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.