High risk groups and their relatives

Most people who are infected with covid-19 will probably get mild symptoms, but some may experience a more severe disease.

Foto: Johner/Maskot Bildbyrå AB

Is the coronavirus more dangerous for some groups?

Most people who are infected by SARS-CoV-2 (the new coronavirus), will experience mild symptoms and fully recover. Some groups have an increased risk of a more severe disease, although most people in a risk group also will experience only mild symptoms. You can find information below on which groups are at increased risk of a more severe progression of covid-19, and advice for infection protection.

We should all follow the general advice by maintaining good hand and cough hygiene, limiting the number of social contacts and keeping a distance to others. 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 underlying diseases.

The current level of infection in Norway is low. If the level of infection in society increases persons in risk groups should live a more sheltered life.

Advice for risk groups

As new and updated knowledge is acquired, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) are regularly making new assessments as to who is at risk of a more serious progression of covid-19. The advice is updated with descriptions on age groups and underlying disease with significance to the risk assessment.

The advice will be influenced by the general level of infection in society, or the local level of infection where you live. The level of infection is currently low in all regions of Norway. There may be local outbreaks, for example in specific workplaces, areas or municipalities. The local level of infection is assessed by the District Medical Officer in collaboration with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Advice on what to do / not do is summarized for the following two groups:

  • Persons with a slightly increased risk
  • Persons with a moderate/high risk
This article mentions the term «those closest to you». You own the definition of who this might refer to. For most people it would be those you live with, a boyfriend or girlfriend or next of kin, for others it might be their closest friend.

Slightly increased risk and a low level of infection in society

When the level of infection is low, those with a slightly increased risk can basically live and do the same as others: travel, work and attend events. You should however take extra care to follow the general advice on infection control:

  • keep the recommended distance to other people than those closest to you
  • keep good hand and cough hygiene
  • stay at home if you are ill

Consider whether you can follow the advices before engaging in social activities.

Slightly increased risk and a high level of infection in society

When the level of infection is high, those with a slightly increased risk should live a more sheltered life. You can associate with those closest to you as you normally do, travel and socialise with others as long as you and those closest to you are extra attentive to the general advice on distance as well as hand and cough hygiene. 

Limit the number of close contacts. Avoid places where many people congregate, such as public transport, shopping centres and department stores, or visit when there are not too many others there and more spacious. Workplace adjustments might be appropriate.

Moderate/high risk and a low level of infection in society

When the level of infection is low, those with a moderate/high risk should live a more sheltered life. You can associate with those closest to you as you normally do, travel and socialise with others as long as you and those closest to you are extra attentive to the general advice on distance as well as hand and cough hygiene. Limit the number of close contacts. Avoid places where many people congregate, such as public transport, shopping centres and department stores, or visit when there are not too many others there and more spacious. Workplace adjustments might be appropriate.

Moderate/high risk and a high level of infection in society

When the level of infection is high, those with a moderate/high risk should live a sheltered life. In order to avoid infection, you should withdraw during this period if you are part of a group considered to be at moderate/high risk. You can go for a walk and socialise with those closest to you as you normally do, given that they also live sheltered and are healthy. Take extra care to follow the advice on good hand and cough hygiene.

You should in addition keep an increased distance (preferably two metres) to others than those closest to you. Make appointments with someone who can assist you with necessary purchases. If those closest to you meet many others on a daily basis, you should keep an increased distance to them as well. If this is not possible, other temporary housing arrangements can be considered. If workplace adjustments are not possible, sick leave should be considered.

Here you can download an illustration with these advice in a table format (fhi.no).


Find information for risk groups in multiple languages.

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 increased risk

  • Between 65 and 80 years of age (and in particular older than 70) OR
  • Between 50 and 65 years of age and with one of the following chronic diseases:
    • cardiovascular disease (other than a well-managed high blood pressure)
    • obesity (BMI ≥ 30) in combination with weight-related diseases, or BMI ≥ 40
    • diabetes
    • chronic kidney disease and kidney failure
    • chronic lung disease (other than well-regulated asthma)
    • chronic liver disease
    • immunosuppressant treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation as well as immunosuppressant treatment with autoimmune diseases

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

Groups with a moderate/high risk

  • Above 80 years of age, OR
  • Residents in nursing homes OR
  • Between 66 and 80 years of age and with one of the following chronic diseases, OR between 50 and 65 years of age and with two or more of the following chronic diseases:
    • cardiovascular disease (other than a well-managed high blood pressure)
    • obesity (BMI ≥ 30) in combination with weight-related diseases, or BMI ≥ 40
    • diabetes
    • chronic kidney disease and kidney failure
    • chronic lung disease (other than well-regulated asthma)
    • chronic liver disease
    • Immunosuppressant treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation as well as immunosuppressant treatment with autoimmune diseases
  • Serious health conditions, irrespective of age *: 
    • Persons with cancer in active phase, ongoing or recently completed treatment for cancer (in particular immunosuppressant treatment, radiation therapy to the lungs or chemotherapy). Leukemia has a higher risk compared to other types of cancer. Neurological or muscular diseases that lead to reduced coughing strength or reduced lung function (e.g. ALS)
    • congenital immunodeficiency in an unstable phase that lead to a risk of serious respiratory infections
    • blood disorders that affect cells or organs that are important for the immune system
    • bone marrow transplantation or organ transplantation
    • HIV infection with low CD4 counts
    • severely impaired kidney function or liver function
    • other conditions, assessed by a doctor

* 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, even if there at present are no studies available that indicate a serious progression for all diseases.

To read the assessment of risk groups and the platform of knowledge on which the recommendations are based, see the article on risk groups on the website of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

General advice for persons in risk groups and their relatives

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.
  • Remember good hand and cough hygiene. This also applies to those you live with and those visiting. Clean the household frequently, pay particular attention to surfaces that are often touched.
  • Avoid shaking hands as well as kissing and hugging people who are not part of your household or a regular partner.
  • Keep a physical distance to others both at work, outdoors and other places.
  • Going for a walk is nice in order to stay fit but choose places that are not congested.
  • Avoid spending time with people who show signs of respiratory infection.
  • Limit the use of public transport if you can, in particular during rush hours.

General advice to relatives

General advice to those who are close to persons in risk groups:

  • Stay in touch with persons who are in a risk group.
  • Follow the general advice on hygiene and other measures to reduce the risk of transfection.
  • Do not visit persons in risk groups if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection or you do not feel completely healthy.
  • Offer to help out with necessary errands.
  • If you live with a person who is in a risk group and develop symptoms of a respiratory infection or feel unwell, limit the time you spend together and contact your doctor if in need of medical attention. If possible, stay and sleep in separate rooms and use separate bathrooms. If this is not possible, it is important to keep a distance and use separate towels and toiletries in the bathroom.

Can grandparents be with their grandchildren?

The current level of infection in society is low, and persons with a slightly increased risk can essentially go on vacation with or be with their grandchildren. You are however encouraged to be extra attentive to the general transmission prevention measures (hand and cough hygiene, social distancing and to stay at home given symptoms or illness).

If you belong to the category with a moderate or high level of risk, you need to asses on an individual basis who to spend time with and what precautions to take. When required, an individual assessment on the level of risk for a more severe progression of covid-19 should be made in consultation with your own doctor. See also travel advice for persons in risk groups and their relatives.

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. Protective equipment for family and relatives in the home is not necessary. Wash hands frequently and carefully with soap and lukewarm water. Keep the house clean in the usual way. Pay extra attention to surfaces that are often touched.

Persons with respiratory symptoms should not visit. 

Employees from the municipality's health and care services do not need protective equipment if there is no suspicion of infection, but they must follow strict rules on hand hygiene.

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

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

Should persons in risk groups change ongoing treatment?

Changing ongoing treatment and medication without consulting your doctor is not recommended. It is important that the underlying disease is well managed and treated. Maintain good habits by being active, keeping a normal daily rhythm, regular meals and with weekends that differ from weekdays.

If you have asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and are treated with inhaled corticosteroids, you should continue your scheduled treatment. Contact your doctor if you experience increased respiratory symptoms.

The European Society of Cardiology has stated that there is no clinical or scientific evidence to suggest that anti-hypertensive treatment should be adjusted due to the coronavirus outbreak.

There is no reason discourage startup or termination of ongoing immunosuppressive treatment. Should persons who are on immunosuppressive treatment become sick, they can contact their doctor for advice in relation to medication, take samples or tests and examination.

Children and youth in risk groups

Children and youth seem to develop a mild illness. This also applies to children with chronic diseases. There is no indication so far of these children showing increased risk of developing serious illness from covid-19 compared to healthy children. 

Based on the precautionary principle, some groups could however be more vulnerable and facilitated teaching during reopening schools and kindergartens can be considered.

For more information about these groups and covid-19 in children and youth, visit:

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:

Can I visit family and friends in a healthcare institution?

Yes, you can visit under certain conditions. Visits to hospitals, nursing homes or other health institutions should be facilitated as far as possible. All visits should be assessed and arranged for in advance, and they must be registered.

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 must be in line with the national recommendations for infection control.

The institution shall specifically facilitate visits when the patient, resident or next of kin is a child.

All visits shall be registered in order to allow contact tracing by the health authorities should this be required.

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.