Should I stay at home, and in quarantine or isolation?

Foto: Mostphotos/Michael Erhardsson

What recommendations apply to me?

In order to avoid transmission of the virus, everybody should keep their distance from each other to a larger extent than usual. Those that may be infected with coronavirus but are not ill, must be quarantined. Those that are being tested for the virus, or have had infection confirmed, must be kept in isolation.

The population in general

Everybody should keep their distance from each other to a larger extent than usual. In public, you should keep at least one meter distance to other people. When outdoors, you should not be more than five people in the same group. This does not apply to those who are in family or in the same household.

When indoors in the workplace, you should be at least two meters away from each other. This does not apply when indoors with family or people in the same household.

It is important to continue to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Try to avoid touching your face as well.

Those who are well and live in the same household can associate as they normally do. This includes children of divorced parents, but when it comes to other people, you should refrain from shaking hands, kissing and hugging.

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, you should stay at home until one day after you have recovered and feel well. Members of the same household can still go outside, but must stay aware of their own symptoms, should any develop. This also applies to healthcare personnel.

Why should everyone who experiences symptoms of respiratory infection stay at home until 24 hours after all symptoms are gone?

A large group of people will have symptoms of respiratory infection. Norway is testing a lot of people for COVID-19, and so far, only about 5 percent of the tests have come back positive for coronavirus. In other words, there are many people with respiratory infections whose symptoms are caused by something other than coronavirus disease.  Preliminary findings indicate that those who are infected with COVID-19 are most contagious early in the course of the disease and quickly become less contagious when the symptoms are gone. Therefore, as a general advice this whole group should stay home for 24 hours after the symptoms are gone.

Home quarantine

There are two groups that must be quarantined:

  • If you have been abroad, you must stay quarantined for 14 days from the day you returned home.
  • If you have been in close contact with anybody that have previously or subsequently been confirmed as infected, you must stay quarantined. Who this applies to will be decided by the health services and the infected person. Close contact means contact closer than 2 meters for longer than 15 minutes, or if you have been in direct physical contact. The quarantine lasts 14 days from the day of the contact.

If you live with a person who is isolated with a detected coronavirus, you must be in quarantine until the person who is ill is no longer isolated, for at least 14 days after the quarantine started.

If you are tested for coronavirus while in quarantine and this test is negative, you must still complete the quarantine period of 14 days.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) have updated information on testing for coronavirus (in Norwegian).

Employers may give exceptions to the quarantine rules regarding people who are deemed essential for maintaining functions critical for health and safety. Such functions may include

  • on-duty personell in the healcare services
  • police, fire and rescue services
  • top management of critical social functions

The exception does not apply in leisure time, only when at work or traveling to and from work with anything other than public transport. They should, as far as possible, avoid close contact with other persons.

Isolation at home

You must be isolated if you are tested for or have had coronavirus detected. You will be isolated in your home, or if necessary, in a health institution or somewhere else.

What can I do and not do?

The population in general

As previously mentioned, it is important to keep your distance from others - at least one metre (three feet) when in public - except people who are your immediate family or members of the same household. You can use public transport, as long as you keep your distance from the other passengers. If you can, you should work from home.

It is important that we all only travel when absolutely necessary, also domestically.

Visits and social gatherings should be limited. If you receive visitors, try to limit the number of people you are in close contact with. Healthy children can be together in small groups, but strive to have regular playmates throughout the period. Playing outside involves less risk of infection than playing inside. Postpone larger gatherings that are not necessary.

If you belong to a high-risk group, these precautions are of extra importance to you.

Finally, take care of each other and avoid stigma and exclusion. Think about whether someone might need an additional phone call during this time. This is the time for showing some extra consideration in everyday life.

Home quarantine

When you are in home quarantine, you should stay home as much as possible. Do not go to school or work, and work from home. If you are unable to work from home and have to go your workplace, keep a distance of at least two metres (seven feet) from other people. You should not take longer trips domestically or abroad, or use public transport.

You should avoid places where it is difficult to keep a distance and you should not, as a general rule, seek out public places, such as shops, pharmacies and cafes. In the absence of options, you can go out to carry out necessary errands in the store.

But keep 1-2 meters distance to others and avoid queuing.

You can go for a walk outside, but keep a good distance from others.

It is important that you monitor whether you develop symptoms. In case of fever or respiratory symptoms, stay home and avoid contact with others.

Quarantined children cannot have playmates beyond those in the home.

The main point is that you should not infect others before you develop symptoms yourself, but it must also be practically feasible.

On March 20, the Government imposed a ban on overnight stays in cabins and leisure properties outside your own municipality. Read more about this on the Government's website.

Exceptions are given for people in quarantine who live with a family member who is in isolation with a detected coronavirus.

People who are in quarantine because they live with someone who is confirmed to be infected can thus spend the night in the cabin during the period when the infected person is in isolation at home. The infected person must stay at home, while the other persons in the household can stay overnight in the cabin.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has issued advice for people in home quarantine (in Norwegian).

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has also translated information to people who must stay at home, to 22 different languages: Brochures and video with information on home quarantine and isolation in different languages.

Home isolation

If you have been tested for coronavirus or confirmed infected, you must be isolated.

That means you have to stay home all the time and not go out. You should preferably stay two meters away from those you live with and have your own room and bathroom when possible. Use your own bathroom items, including your own towel.

While at home, be careful about hand and cough hygiene to avoid infecting others in the household. Frequent cleaning of the home is also important, especially the places that are often touched.

Those you live with should be quarantined.

Isolation lasts until the doctor says you are no longer infectious, normally 7 days after you are completely healthy. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has information on the criteria for ending the isolation.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) has issued advice for people who are isolated in the home by coronavirus (in Norwegian).

Stress-reducing measures during home quarantine and isolation

​Being confined to home quarantine or isolation can be stressful and can often lead to a sense of worry, tenseness, irritability, restlessness and concentration difficulties. Many people feel sad, lonely or have trouble sleeping. Most people will however handle a period of home quarantine or home isolation quite well, with only transitory psychological effects.

During a period of home quarantine or isolation, daily routines and family life take a different turn. You cannot go to work, school or kindergarten and we cannot socialise in the same way as we are used to. This can often lead to less physical activity, irregular meals, and a possible decrease or increase in the amount of sleep. Most people will spend more time in front of a screen.

Positive measures for those affected

Stay updated with the news – but not too much

There is a steady stream of important information and useful advice. Too much focus on news-updates can trigger concern and worry. If you want to stay updated, you should turn to reliable sources such as the websites of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Helsenorge.

Structure your day

Creating new routines at home is important. Try to stick to a normal sleep pattern. For many, school and working from home will help bring structure, meaning and a sense of security in their everyday life. Find good ways to structure and manage your job situation while working from home. Keeping up your hobbies can also be a good way to stay active.

Get your daily dose of physical activity and daylight

Life during an indoor quarantine can easily turn sedentary. Physical activity, enjoying nature and getting your daily dose of daylight have a positive effect on both mental health and sleep patterns.  For out-door activities, keep distance, and follow recommendations from the health authorities.

Maintain social interactions

While in home quarantine or isolation, you can stay in touch via social media or over the phone. Setting up regular appointments to communicate with family, friends and colleagues can be a good thing.

Positive measures for children, youth and families in home quarantine or isolation

Young people can experience a range of reactions while being confined to home quarantine or isolation. Some can feel stressed out, sad, angry or annoyed, while others seem not to experience any negative emotions related to the situation. Some can observe stomach-ache, headache or other bodily sensations and might wonder whether they are ill.

They can also be concerned for the health of parents or siblings. All these emotions are totally normal. And for most, these reactions will be transitory. Yet the situation can be a challenge for a family with their daily routines impacted.

There are many activities that can be of help for families with children in this situation:

Talk to the children

Children need intelligible information as to why they are confined to home quarantine or isolation, and what they can do themselves. It is important the children learn that their efforts will help reduce the risk of others being infected. Ask if they have any questions and give them clear answers. Remember that children pick up on more than you think. Children can also have a sense of guilt in the situation or be very afraid. Do not wait for them to approach you with their questions. Ask them what information or news they have heard and respond to their query.

Soundness is contageous

When you are secure, the children feel secure. When children are afraid, they need comfort and care. Take some deep breaths and find your inner strength. Build a sense of safety by recognising their emotions and help them handle all their emotions. Children might need adults to display extra patience in this situation.

Stick to your routines

Even though kindergarten and schools are closed, keeping a daily rhythm with structured activities is beneficial. This includes getting up and going to bed at the usual time, being physically active and doing homework. Healthy, regular meals, sleep and physical activity will reduce the level of stress in a young person as well as in adults. Bedtime routines can be affected when children are afraid and/or ill. Stick to your regular bedtime routines. Avoid letting children spend too much time alone with their phone or tablet, and preferably put these down one hour ahead of bedtime. Children might often wake up during the night and come to their parents, this is quite normal and will pass.

Social contact

Stay in touch with friends and family via social media or over the phone. This is both supportive and encouraging and relieves stress.

Do what work for you

Do stuff that you and your family enjoy - like watching a film, read books, listen to music or audiobooks. Family time can be positive, yet we should also respect a child's need for spending time alone.