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  • Test criteria

Test criteria for coronavirus

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested, including people who are vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people without symptoms are usually not tested.

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested, including people who are vaccinated. Fully vaccinated people without symptoms are usually not tested.


The following should be tested*: 

  1. With symptoms 

    Everyone with newly-arisen respiratory tract infection or other symptoms of COVID-19. This also applies to people who are vaccinated or have had COVID-19 more than 3 months ago. 

  2. With known exposure*

    Household members or equivalent close contacts

    Other close contacts

    People who have been notified by Smittestopp

  3. Arrival in Norway*

    See Entry quarantine and rules upon arrival in Norway

  4. Other screening after infectional control assessment*

    In certain healthcare institutions after local assessment

    Regular testing in certain situations

    Anyone who suspects that they have COVID-19 

*Asymptomatic people who are fully vaccinated people or who have had COVID-19 during the last 12 months should not be tested. 

Further information about the different groups can be found further down the page.

The following should also be offered testing: 

  • People who need to be tested for a COVID-19 certificate**

**municipalities are not obliged to provide testing for COVID-19 certificates, but can do so if they have capacity.

For testing with symptoms associated with vaccination, see: 

COVID-19 consultations and testing are free in the public health service for everyone who is staying in the country, regardless of residence status.

  • There is usually no basis for forcing people without symptoms to be tested, according to the Infection Control Act.

Supplementary information about who should be tested

1) With symptoms 

Everyone with symptoms of COVID-19, including those who are vaccinated, should be considered for testing. For those who have had COVID-19 in the last 3 months, PCR results after retesting may be difficult to assess because long-term PCR positivity is a known phenomenon among some people after SARS-CoV-2 infection.

COVID-19 often has the following symptoms; fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, or feeling unwell:

For residents of nursing homes, there should be an extremely low threshold for testing even for mild symptoms, even though they may be vaccinated.

Children should also be tested, in consultation with their parents.  Children with a runny nose as the only symptom, who are otherwise in general good health without other signs of a newly arisen respiratory tract infection, do not need to be kept at home or tested.

Self-testing, rapid antigen tests and PCR can be appropriate. Self-testing is particularly useful for a quick response time. Positive self-tests should be confirmed with a PCR test.  

2) After exposure

a) Household members or equivalent close contacts

Recommended test regimen: either daily self-testing or alternate days with a PCR test at a test centre.

b) Other close contacts

One test. Test can be taken immediately.

Self-test or rapid antigen test from the front part of the nose is the first choice for this indication. Positive test results should be confirmed by PCR test.

c) People notified by the Smittestopp app

People who receive a notification from the Smittestopp app that they may have been exposed to infection, are encouraged to be tested. As it is unknown when transmission may have occurred, and because a few days after exposure will have passed, they should be tested as soon as possible.

Self-test or rapid antigen test from the front part of the nose is the first choice for this indication. Positive test results should be confirmed by PCR test.

3) Arrival in Norway

4. Other screening after infection control assessment

Before admission to certain health institutions, testing may be relevant. The health institution's infection control officer will provide advice on this.

b) Other screening after assessment

After a specific infection control assessment, advice can be given about testing different groups more regularly for better control in certain situations with widespread transmission. 

In such situations, rapid antigen testing will be most appropriate.

c) Anyone who suspects they are infected with COVID-19 should be given the opportunity to get tested

A person who believes or suspects that they are infected with COVID-19 should be offered a test, if there is sufficient capacity.

Other people who want a test for other reasons, for example because they need a health certificate before leaving the country, can also be tested, but the test will then usually not be covered by the public sector.

d) Test for use in COVID-19 certificate

A negative COVID-19 test taken during the last 24 hours is equivalent with vaccination and immunity after having COVID-19 disease in the COVID-19 certificate. Testing will mainly take place using rapid antigen tests, will take place under the supervision of the responsible doctor and will be notified to MSIS.

The COVID-19 certificate on Helsenorge has two tabs. One for Norway and one for the EU / EEA. After 24 hours, the Norwegian COVID-19 certificate will be red (if you have not been vaccinated or have had an illness), but you will still be able to see the test result and when the test was taken. This can be found under the EU / EEA tab. This will be displayed for seven days after the test is taken. The EU / EEA certificate does not use colour codes. This means that even if the Norwegian certificate is red, it may be valid in the EU / EEA country. The person who travels has a duty to familiarise himself with the rules of the country they travel to.

PCR-test

PCR test refers to PCR and other nucleic acid amplification tests.

Other nucleic acid amplification (NAT) tests are considered equivalent to PCR tests (as specified in COVID-19 regulations).

History

25.09.2021: Updated according to changes as a result of moving towards normal daily life with increased preparedness.

07.09.2021: Updated sentence: *Fully vaccinated people or people who have had COVID-19 during the last 12 months should not be tested.

17.08.2021: Updated with regards to regulatory changes about testing instead of quarantine. Clarifications of advice about testing of vaccinated.

01.07.2021: Updated text according to changes in COVID-19 regulations where waiting quarantine is removed from 1 July 2021.

23.06.2021: Clarification that other nucleic acid amplification tests (NAT) are considered equivalent to PCR tests (also specified in the COVID-19 regulations)

20.06.2021: Addition to test criteria regarding use of test to COVID-19 certificate

19.05.2021: Change of sentence about testing and vaccination status.

30.04.2021: Added that PCR test 7 days after entry is mandatory, cf. regulatory change

20.04.2021: Removed point about healthcare personnel who have been abroad from order of priority, according to test criteria

20.04.2021: Updated text about testing children under 12 years upon arrival in Norway. Removed text about PCR testing of travellers from certain countries, according to the regulations.

19.03.2021: Specified use of rapid testing with long response time.

12.02.2021: Updated according to changes in the Norwegian version

28.01.2021: Added that the quarantine can also be terminated by negative PCR taken no earlier than 7 days after exposure. Added that in special situations, tests can also be considered at the start of the quarantine (eg uncontrolled outbreaks, overcrowding, risk groups).

27.01.2021: Removed "This does not apply to travellers from the UK or South Africa"  that was under the sentence "***** Provided there is sufficient test capacity, entry quarantine may be shortened after negative PCR test for COVID-19 no earlier than seven days after arrival."

26.01.2021:Updated to reflect changes to the Covid-19 regulation sections 4 and 6, in effect January 25th, 2021

25.01.2021: New text on the top of this page "When handling outbreaks where a new variant from the United Kingdom has been detected (UK B.1.1.7 (VOC2020 / 01) or with an epidemiological connection to such an outbreak, the NIPH recommends that everyone who is defined as a close contact should be tested immediately with PCR and retested with PCR before leaving the quarantine (at the earliest day 7)."

19.01.2021: Updated text about mandatory testing on arrival in Norway

02.01.2021: Text and link added about the Government`s introduction of mandatory testing for travellers to Norway from January 2nd. Smaller text changes due to this. Added sentence about this being removed from order of priority in the event of a lack of test capacity.

31.12.2020: Added text and link that the government introduces mandatory testing for COVID-19 for arrivals to Norway from 2 January 2021. fhi.no will be updated when the measure is introduced. Added testing for shortened entry quarantine.

28.12.2020: Added "Children under the age of 12 are recommended to have the same testing regime as other people arriving from the United Kingdom."

22.12.2020 Added recommendation for testing close contacts to travellers over 12 years-old arriving from UK who have tested positive. 

21.12.2020:  Changed sentence to "After arrival from the United Kingdom, a PCR test is required from 21 December within 24 hours of arrival in Norway and then a new test on day 7 at the earliest after arrival. This currently applies until 10 January"

20.12.2020: Added sentence "People arriving from the UK are especially encouraged to be tested in the first 24 hours after arrival" and "or after travel" to the text about testing children (*)

18.12.2020: Updated text about testing children (*). Added text/updated section about results on mobile phone. 

03.12.2020: This paragraph is removed: "Why is testing of people without symptoms and without exposure not usually recommended?"

30.11.2020: Clarified section about test results at helsenorge.no. Clarified recommendations on low threshold for testing of staff in nursing homes and recommended regular testing in areas with high transmission. Removed advice linked to outbreak among mink in Denmark. Updated in relation to the current epidemiological situation and current knowledge about properties of SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR. Flowcharts and tables that are no longer considered useful in the current situation have been removed.

23.11.2020: Added some clarifications, to make it clear that these are analysis results. Updated Figures 1 and 2.

19.11.2020: minor change to paragraphs about test results.

18.11.2020: edited section about COVID-19- related test results. Added link to test results page on helsenorge.no

10.11.2020 Added that it is particularly important that new arrivals from Denmark are tested because of findings of mutated virus.

04.11.2020: Updated flowchart under C) Others.

02.11.2020: Added that it is recommended that all close contacts of lower secondary school age and above are tested.

23.09.2020: Small changes in the numbers in figures 1 and 2 that show examples of testing of 100 000 individuals (without symptoms, not exposed, randomly selected).

22.09.2020: Clarified "even though they still have a few symptoms after the respiratory tract infection." Added "Since both viruses and bacteria can cause respiratory tract infections or other COVID-19 related symptoms, other tests in addition to SARS-CoV-2 may be required in the search for a correct diagnosis. The analysis results from these tests are also available for patients who log onto helsenorge.no. The person ordering the tests should explain to the patient what they are being tested for." 

17.09.2020: Updated flowchart and added link to the PDF version.

15.09.2020: Estimate for specificity changed from 99.9% to 99.999% in text and figures.

04.09.2020: Added "With a negative test, they can return to work/school when their general condition is good (they feel well and have no fever), even though they still have some symptoms of respiratory tract infection."

28.08.2020: Updated flow chart on interpreting COVID-19 test results. Fact sheet updated with that you should stay at home until a negative COVID-19 test result is available and you are in good general condition. Added paragraph about waiting for test results.

27.08.2020: Changed from "The doctor at the test centre is responsible for informing the patient and their regular doctor of the test result, and for notifying the Norwegian Surveillance System for Communicable Diseases (MSIS) of any positive results on the same day they are available" to "The doctor at the test centre is responsible for informing the patient and their regular doctor of the test result (both positive and negative test results), and for notifying the Norwegian Surveillance System for Communicable Diseases (MSIS) of any positive results on the same day they are available." 
Added "Children play a smaller role in transmission of COVID-19 than adults, so testing of children of primary school or child care age without symptoms will therefore be of less significance. However, testing can be carried out if desired and in consultation with parents/guardians".   

Updated * and ** in the first flow chart - from "children under 10 years" and "symptom-free to *Children of primary school/ child care age who only have a runny nose and are in general good health without other symptoms of new respiratory tract infection do not need to stay at home. **For children of primary school/ child care age who have mild symptoms, observe the symptoms at home before testing. If they recover quickly, they can return to school / child care without being tested.

20.08.2020: Moved the sentence "Anyone who suspects that they have COVID-19 should have the opportunity to be tested" to point number 4 in the list over who should be tested.

15.08.2020: Clarified responsibility around sending in MSIS notifications. Clarified advice about testing upon arrival from regions (not areas) with high incidence.

13.08.2020: Changed point 2 in supplementary information about who should be tested - removed distinction between "household members and equivalent close contacts" and "other close contacts".

12.08.2020: Test criteria updated as per Norwegian version.

31.07.2020: Added to the text box: People returning from countries which, after their return, were categorised as "red" should be given priority for testing (Norwegian Government decision of 23 July 2020).

23.07.2020: Added section of interpretation of positive PCR test results after disease review.

20.07.2020: Added a new point that Health personnel, who will work close to the patient, within 10 days after a trip abroad to "green countries", can be considered tested even if they are asymptomatic. And a new point that close contacts who are in quarantine (household members and similar close contacts) can be tested to hasten further infection tracking, if the laboratory capacity allows it.

17.07.2020: Added a point that Health personnel who will work close to the patient within 10 days after a trip abroad to «green countries», should be tested even if they are asymptomatic.

03.07.2020: Updated flowcharts. Changed "new respiratory tract infection infection" to "newly arisen respiratory tract infection. 

01.07.2020: Added section: COVID-19-related test results at helsenorge.no and in Summary care records

29.06.2020: Updated flowchart for COVID-19 testing. Emphasised that newly arisen respiratory tract infections should be tested. Added exemptions for children under 10-years-old.

24.06.2020: Added sentence "Everyone who is tested should stay at home until they get a negative test result AND they are symptom-free" in the section "everyone with symptoms should be tested". Changed sentence about symptoms that are less typical to "With other symptoms that are not typical for COVID-19 among people who do not need medical attention, the symptoms can be observed at home before being considered for testing."

22.06.2020: Adjusted text about test criteria, as per Norwegian version

19.06.2020: Updated who should be tested (first and second paragraphs in body text)

11.06.2020: Added flowchart for interpretation of results

04.06.2020: Added that close contacts who are not going to be quarantined should be tested.

31.05.2020: Added that testing can be an alternative to quarantine. Clarified interpretation of unexpected test results. Removed flowchart that is now incorrect after changes to COVID-19 regulations.

28.05.2020: Added figures 1 and 2.

26.05.2020: Put prioritisation list in a text box, clarified that everyone with symptoms should be tested if capacity is available.

25.05.2020: Updated as per Norwegian version. 

07.05.2020: Updated ingress as per Norwegian version. "It is advised that everyone with suspected COVID-19 should be tested. With limits in testing capacity, the following order of priority is recommended:"

04.05.2020:

Removed "This is why the quarantine period cannot be shortened based on a negative test result" from paragraph about "Why people without symptoms are not tested."

30.04.2020
Removed paragraph about the strategy, as per Norwegian version.

22.04.2020

Added ****Should preferably monitor symptoms at home for 2 days before considering testing.

20.04.2020

Changes as per Norwegian text. Changed paragraph about prioritised indications for testing of COVID-19. Added sentence "People with acute respiratory tract infections with fever, cough or breathing difficulties, or who a doctor suspects has COVID-19" over list of prioritised groups.

17.04.2020
Updated point 4 as per Norwegian text and changed some of the diseases under ***

12.04.2020
Added "With a negative test result but strong clinical suspicion of COVID-19, consider re-testing."

05.03.2020
Clarification - if there is good capacity, it is recommended to test everyone with symptoms that could be due to COVID-19, particularly with admission.