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The chief medical officer of Infection Control answers students

The chief medical officer of Infection Control clarifies how quarantine regulations will affect students and answer questions from students to Bergen municipality.

Smttevernoverlege Karina Løland
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Photo:
Anne Kringstad, Bergen kommune

On Thursday September 3, the following clarification regarding quarantine regulations for students in Bergen was sent out by Bergen Municipality. Earlier this week they said that studentes who had been to parties where the requirements for infection control and prevention were not met, should be in self-imposed quarantine for ten days.

Please read the following text from the chief medical officer in Bergen:

Important information to students in Bergen

As we all know there is an ongoing major COVID-19 in the student community in Bergen. We are working to stop this outbreak, and we want to give you clear and distinct explanations of different concepts. We also want to provide information based on questions that we have received from students the last weeks.

About testing

In Bergen the local medical service is responsible for performing testing. More information about how this is done and how you can get tested on Bergen municipality's website: https://www.bergen.kommune.no/hvaskjer/tema/koronavirus/languages/information-to-travellers-arriving-bergen

The purpose of testing for COVID-19 is to find out whether a person is infected/contagious. The test gives information on the situation here and now, and does not say anything about to which degree you will be contagious at a later point. It is important to get tested quickly if you think you are infected with coronavirus. 

How long it takes from infection to the onset of the disease can take from 5 to a maximum 14 days. This means that you can be infected but still test negative. Therefore it is important not to test too early in relation to the time of infection.

After you have been tested, and while you are waiting for the result, you must stay at home and not go to work or school, take public transport or visit public places, and keep good distance to everyone but those closest to you. Household members do not need to be quarantined, nor do household members who work in the health service. If you share a flat or live in a collective, the people you live with are considered a household member.

What do I do if I have tested positive, and nobody from the health service calls me?

It may take some time before the laboratory have the time to call and inform the person who performed the test on you, and you receive a call. In the meantime, you must be in isolation as described below. You can start to make a list over the names and telephone numbers to people you have been in close contact with the last 48 hours before you experienced symptoms. If you have no symptoms, it is the last 48 hours before you received the positive test result. It is up to you whether you want to notify these persons yourself and tell them that they have to be quarantined, but they will also be contacted in short time by one of our infection detection employees in the municipality.

Quarantine and isolation

Students often live in shared accomodation or collecively with other students, often from other learning institutions. It is common to share kitchen and bathroom with several people. We understand that it can be challenging to stay at home and at the same time be in quarantine or isolation. Many of the questions we get from students are about how to implement quarantine and isolation under such living conditions.

You can read more about social distance, quarantine and isolation in this overview from The National Institute of Public Health» 

Isolation

If you suspect or you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must be isolated either at home, in a health instition or elsewhere. A suspected infected person has developed symptoms and is in imposed quarantine, but has not yet tested positive for COVID-19. Most of the affected students are young and have mild symptoms. In these cases home isolation is the most relevant measure.

The rules for home isolation are: 

  • Do not leave your home, although you can go into your own garden or your own balcony.
  • Arrange help from others to perform necessary errands.
  • Keep at least 1 metre distance between you and the people you live with, if possible.
  • If possible, use a separate room and bathroom. Use your own towel and toiletries.
  • Agree with your doctor how you should monitor your condition.
  • Ring the healthcare service if you need medical attention because your condition has deteriorated (for example, you get breathing difficulties) or other reasons. Explain that you have COVID-19 when you ring so they can then arrange measures to prevent others from being infected. Do not use public transport.
  • Clean your home frequently. Clean surfaces such as bathroom sinks, toilets, door handles and kitchen worktops. Ordinary cleaning products are sufficient. Place used textiles and bedding directly in the washing machine and wash at a minimum of 60 ⁰C.
  • The people you live with shall be in quarantine.
  • The people you live with must be careful about hand hygiene with frequent hand washing with soap and water. Remember to wash or disinfect your hands when you leave the room where the isolated person is staying and after being in contact with the isolated person or equipment they have used, and before leaving the house.
  • Your doctor will assess how long you need to be isolated. You need to be isolated for at least 8 days after you become ill. If you do not have any symptoms, but you have tested positive for COVID-19, you need to be isolated for 10 says after you received the positive test result.
  • If other people in the same household also have tested positive for COVID-19, they can stay isolated together.

If it is not possible for you to implement all the measures mentioned above, you must discuss with your doctor or health personell in the municipality, and they can organize other forms of isolation. In Bergen you can get a room at the "Corona-hotel" at Danmarksplass, after an assessment of your isolation conditions.

If you have been in isolation and have been declared healthy and are moving back in with the other household members, you should try to limit the contact with the others if any of them are in isolation. Even if you now are part of a houshold with another person with COVID-19, you do not need to be quarantined. 

Quarantine - imposed and self-imposed

The quarantine must be carried out by those who have been in contact with persons with proven COVID-19, or those who have been traveling in an area with much infection.

In Bergen we recommend that all students and others that have been to parties in the student communities during the last 10 days, and where there is doubt that infection control measures hav been carried out, should go into self-imposed quarantine.

If so, you should relate exactly as you would in case of imposed quarantine. The difference between the two forms of quarantine, is that you do not risk to be punished in accordance to with the COVID-19 regulations if you break the self-imposed quarantine. This does not make it less important to comply.

Quarantine rules:

  • You are in quarantine for 10 days after the last exposure, or after arriving in Norway.

  • You can be in normal contact with household members, but avoid visits. 

  • Do not go to work, school, childcare centre or other activity outside the home.

  • Do not take long trips in Norway or travel abroad.

  • Do not use public transport.

  • Avoid places where it is difficult to maintain a distance from other people.

  • As a rule, you should not visit public places like shops and cafes. If there is no alternative, you may go out to carry out a necessary errand to the supermarket or pharmacy, but ensure that you keep a distance (at least 1 metre) from other people and avoid queues.

  • You can go for a walk, but keep a distance of at least 1 metre from others.

  • Be alert for any symptoms. If you develop a fever or respiratory tract symptoms, isolate yourself as soon as possible. 

  • It is most common is to carry out the quarantine in your own home. In order for another residence to be suitable, it must be possible to avoid contact with others than those you usually live with.

  • This means that accommodations where you have to interact with other guests are not suitable for quarantine. Stays in a caravan, tent or cabin on campsites without a private bathroom/toilet and kitchen are not accepted as an address for the implementation of the quarantine period if you have to share facilities with other people than your closest/travel companions. The same applies to stays at addresses where you have to share rooms/facilities with others than those you usually live with, for example dormitories and other homes with shared bathrooms or kitchens.

  • Quarantine in other people's homes is ok if you and your household are the only guests.
     
  • It is very important to note that you can not end the quarantine even if you test negative during the quarantine period!

If you have any questions or you feel uncertain, you can contact you general practitioner, or call the municipality's corona telephone on +47 55 56 77 00. The corona telephone is operated Mon-Fri from 08AM-08PM, Sat-Sun from 09AM-14. Please bear in mind that there might be waiting time due to much traffic on the line. If your condition get's worse and you need medical assistanse, call the local medical service at 116 117. In the event of critical illness, call 113.

 

Best regards,

Karina Koller Løland, Chief medical officer of Infection Control