THL's new rules: What to do if you get Covid

The health authority has issued updated instructions for how to proceed if infected with or exposed to coronavirus.

Image: Patric Ring / Yle

Public health authority THL has issued updated instructions for how people should proceed if they get infected with coronavirus.

According to THL, Covid vaccines protect against serious forms of the disease and the majority of vaccinated people who do become infected with the Omicron variant of the virus will only experience mild illness.

If you are suffering from mild respiratory symptoms but feel generally well and are healthy overall, there is usually no need to contact healthcare providers or take a healthcare-provided Covid test, THL said. However, the agency does recommend voluntarily avoiding contact with anyone other than those living in the same household for at least five days.

Covid home tests can be administered in this case, if so desired. If you have symptoms, it is important to avoid contact with others for at least five days, even if the result of a Covid home test is negative.

If symptoms persist for more than three days, THL recommends avoiding contact with others until at least two days after your symptoms stopped

If the result of a home test is positive, it is usually not necessary to confirm it with a laboratory test.

Contact people that you may have exposed and ask them to also voluntarily avoid close contact with others for five days, starting from the time of contact. Ask them to use a face mask and follow good hand hygiene when meeting other people.

However, an infection may be contagious as early as two days before the onset of symptoms, according to the health authority..

What to do after exposure to virus

If you live with, or have otherwise been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid, contact should be avoided with people outside of your home until five days have passed since the onset of symptoms in the infected person.

If several family members fall ill, the five-day isolation period is calculated from the first day of the onset of symptoms of the last person to become ill.

Additionally, if leaving home is absolutely necessary, you should wear a face mask when out and about.

Those who have been exposed to the virus should work remotely, where possible. If completely asymptomatic, you can go to work if you use a face mask and avoid close contact with others.

When should I take a Covid test?

Make an appointment for a healthcare-provided Covid test if you have symptoms consistent with a coronavirus infection, and:

  • The test has been recommended to you by a healthcare professional
  • Your work within social- and healthcare includes customer service or seeing patients
  • You work in any job within round-the-clock care or disability services
  • You belong to a risk group for severe Covid disease; or
  • You are pregnant

When to take home tests

Taking a home Covid test rather than a PCR test may be sensible if symptoms are mild and the person is not at risk for severe Covid disease.

Home tests are more reliable if they are repeated for several consecutive days, or every two to three days. If, despite symptoms, home tests are repeatedly negative, contact with others should still be avoided for at least five days or until symptoms have cleared.

After a positive result, there is no need to repeat the test. The result does not need to be verified with a healthcare-provided test if there is otherwise no immediate need to see a doctor.

This THL recommendation applies to both the unvaccinated and vaccinated.

If guidelines for seeking a Covid test in your community differ from the agency's updated recommendations, follow your local rules.

Such guidelines are published on municipality and hospital district websites. If you receive personal instructions from your healthcare provider, such as taking a Covid test, self-isolation or quarantine, follow them instead of the guidelines provided by THL.