Norway is changing its testing-isolation-tracing-quarantine strategy. Here are the details

Ingvild KjerkolPhoto: Terje Bendiksby / NTB
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On Thursday, the Norwegian government announced it would make changes to its TISK strategy (testing-isolation-tracing-quarantine). Transmission quarantine is being replaced with more self-testing, and people who receive a positive test result must notify their close contacts.

Going ahead, the municipal resources that have been allocated for TISK will be spent in areas where the consequences of transmission are greatest. 

The municipalities will then be able to use the resources for handling outbreaks in the health and care service and for contact tracing among vulnerable and unprotected groups, like care service users and people at high risk of illness.

“The current TISK strategy is, and has been, resource-intensive for the municipalities. We want to establish a more sustainable and dynamic strategy that is adapted to developments in the pandemic and the vaccination rate in the population. 

“Each individual will therefore be given more responsibility for the work with testing and contact tracing. In order for people with COVID-19 to be able to do this, they need clear and simple information about contact tracing and the process of contact tracing. The specialist agencies have already been tasked with preparing such information,” Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol (AP) said on Thursday.

Changes to the transmission quarantine rules

It will be a problem for society if many people are in quarantine. Therefore, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health propose that the rules regarding transmission quarantine for close contacts who are not members of the household of the person with COVID-19 or corresponding close relations be removed. 

The Norwegian government is following this recommendation.

Transmission quarantine for close contacts who are not members of the household of the person with COVID-19 or corresponding close relations has been removed on Thursday, January 13, at noon. These people are recommended to get tested on days 3 and 5 after the close contact. They should closely monitor their symptoms for ten days. If they develop symptoms, they should stay home and get tested. 

“According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, testing is an effective way of detecting infection, and is far less costly for society and much less intrusive for individuals than quarantine. Testing reduces absence and lowers the burden of measures. 

“I have therefore tasked the Norwegian Directorate of Health with entering into a framework agreement for the procurement of up to 100 million more tests. The tests will be free for the inhabitants,” Kjerkol stated.

Close contacts who are household members or corresponding close relations

The government has been advised that the current requirement of 10 days of transmission quarantine for close contacts who are household members of a person with COVID-19 or corresponding close relations can be replaced with daily testing and that this testing must continue until five days after the last close contact. 

People who do not follow this test regime must quarantine for ten days. The Norwegian government is positive towards such a change but, before it can enter into effect, it wants to be sure that the municipalities have adequate supplies of tests. 

Furthermore, the municipalities must have established a system for supplying households with tests.

The current rules regarding quarantine for close contacts who are household members of a person with COVID-19 or corresponding close relations will therefore apply for the time being.

The Smittestopp app

The new changes to the TISK strategy mean that it is even more important that people use the Smittestopp app.

“We really need it now. So if you haven’t downloaded it yet, do so now. And if you get COVID-19, remember to update your status in the app. It’s anonymous. People who have been close to you will be notified quickly. They won’t know who has been infected but will be told to monitor their symptoms and get tested,” Kjerkol noted.

If more people begin using the Smittestopp app, this will simplify the contact tracing work and help break chains of transmission. The app can also be used when traveling in EU and EEA countries. It is available in many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, and Urdu.

Source: Ministry of Health and Care Services / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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