Norwegian health authority changes guidelines for home Covid-19 tests

The Norwegian Institute for Public Health (NIPH) has updated its guidelines in relation to the use of ‘home’ or ‘self’ tests for Covid-19.

A file photo of a used rapid antigen or lateral flow Covid-19 test. Norway's health authority updated guidance on use of the tests on January 31st.
A file photo of a used rapid antigen or lateral flow Covid-19 test. Norway's health authority updated guidance on use of the tests on January 31st. Photo: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

The rapid antigen tests which can be administered at home are generally referred to as self-tests in Norway and are also known as rapid antigen or lateral flow tests.

According to NIPH, a home test can return a positive result early in the early stages of Covid-19 infection if both the nose and throat are used to take a swab sample, while the test can give a negative result when only taken from the nose.

As such, self-tests which take samples from only the nose will detect most infections but samples from both the nose and throat may detect a higher number of Omicron infections.

Improved knowledge of the tests has shown that, even for tests which ask for samples to be taken from just the nose, a swab from both the nose and throat will work slightly better, NIPH said in a statement on Monday.

As such, the health authority recommends taking samples from both throat and nose where possible, although those who find it difficult to swab from the throat can just take their sample from the nose. Children should still only test from the nose.

“Particularly adults with symptoms can therefore take samples from both the nose and throat when they do self-tests,” NIPH doctor Joakim Øverbø said in the statement.

The sample should be taken from the throat first and then the nose, or only the nose – but not from the throat only, Øverbø said.

When taking a sample from the throat, the test should be done in the morning before breakfast – that includes both food and drinks – or at least 30 minutes after any food or drinks. That is to avoid a false positive result because some food and drink can affect the result, NIPH writes.

If your lateral flow result is negative but you have recent symptoms of Covid-19, NIPH recommends you take a further test 2-3 days later.

“If your symptoms are mild you don´t have to stay at home between the first and second tests. But if you live with someone or are otherwise close to a Covid-19 positive person you should stay at home between the first and second home test if you have symptoms,” Øverbø said in the statement.

READ ALSO: What Covid-19 rules apply when going out in Norway

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.