News story | Date: 26/01/2022 | Ministry of Health and Care Services
The 10-day transmission quarantine period can now be replaced with daily testing for household members and corresponding close relations. The amendment to the Regulations will enter into effect on 26 January at 12 am.
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‘Currently, the number of people who have to quarantine is very high. The COVID-19 situation has resulted in a critical need to adjust priorities, the rules for the test strategy, quarantine rules, and use of PCR capacity. It is urgent that we replace the quarantine regime with a test regime,’ says Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.
The amendment to the Regulations will enter into effect on 26 January at 12 am, and applies irrespective of a person’s vaccination status.
The new rules:
The 10-day transmission quarantine period can be replaced with:
- Daily testing for 5 days for household members and corresponding close relations after their last contact with the person with COVID-19.
- Household members and corresponding close relations who cannot keep a distance from the person with COVID-19 during the isolation period can replace transmission quarantine with daily testing for 11 days (6 days during the infected person's isolation period + 5 days afterwards). This also applies to children.
- In addition to the test regime, it is recommended that people wear a face covering indoors at public venues and avoid large gatherings and events for 10 days after the close contact. The recommendation to wear a face covering does not apply children under the age of 12, children over the age of 12 when they are at school, and those who are unable to wear a face covering for medical or other reasons.
- People must monitor their health throughout this period.
- If they develop symptoms, they should stay home and get tested.
Once they enter into effect, the new rules will also apply to people who are already in quarantine. This means that the test regime also applies to them.
People who do not follow the test regime must quarantine for 10 days or may end quarantine early if they present a negative test result taken no sooner than 7 days after their last contact with the person with COVID-19.
People who have recovered from COVID-19 during the past 3 months are exempt from transmission quarantine. The special exemptions that apply to e.g. personnel in critical societal functions will also be kept.
‘This adjustment is essential in order to maintain health and care services as well other important societal functions at an appropriate level despite the expected rise in the transmission rate. It is also proportionate to replace quarantine with testing now that we know that Omicron leads to less severe illness than the previous virus variants’, states Ms Kjerkol.
Need for tests
The overall need for self-tests will increase as a result of this change, due to the sharp increase in the number of cases of COVID-19.
‘The large need for self-tests going ahead means that it may be necessary to change the recommended order of priority for allocation of self-tests to make them as effective as possible in halting the spread of COVID-19 in society. The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health have prepared advice regarding the order in which municipalities should prioritise allocation of tests. This information will be provided to the municipalities. I have also asked the Norwegian Directorate of Health to begin a process to procure more self-tests,’ says Ms Kjerkol.
On 13 January, the Norwegian Government gave notice that transmission quarantine for household members and corresponding close relations would be replaced with daily testing once the municipalities had access to sufficient numbers of self-tests and have set up a system to provide tests. The municipalities have been notified that this must be in place by 26 January. Self-tests that are used to replace transmission quarantine must be offered by municipalities free of charge.
‘Several municipalities have not received the number of tests expected due to delays in delivery to Norway. However, many municipalities have reported that they are ready to move to a test regime to replace quarantine and they have a strong need for such a change. Together with clear advice on the order of priority for self-tests and changes to the recommendations regarding the use of PCR tests, as well as procurement of more self-tests, I think we have a strong foundation for implementing the proposed changes immediately,’ says Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.
No transmission quarantine for other close contacts
Transmission quarantine for close contacts who are not members of the household of the person with COVID-19 or corresponding close relations was removed on 13 January. People are recommended to get tested on days 3 and 5 after the close contact, and should closely monitor their health for 10 days. If they develop symptoms, they should stay home and get tested.
The order of priority for tests:
- people with symptoms;
- testing in known cases of exposure;
- testing instead of quarantine of household members/corresponding close relations;
- other close contacts;
- other screening or assessment of the infection situation;
- testing of personnel who perform critical societal functions (including health personnel);
- regular testing.
25/01: Added wording that once they enter into effect, the new rules will also apply to people who are already in quarantine.