The Public Health Agency of Sweden
Updated 2 December 2021

How long should I stay at home?

This page contains information about how long adults and children need to stay home if they develop symptoms of a respiratory infection. These symptoms can be caused by COVID-19 as well as other conditions such as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza.

Stay home if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection

You should stay home from work, school, preschool and other activities if you develop symptoms of a respiratory infection. These symptoms can include a runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough or feeling generally unwell. Stay home even if you have received a negative COVID-19 test result. That will reduce the spread of other infections.

This applies to everyone, regardless of age, and also includes those who have been vaccinated. The aim is to limit the spread of COVID-19 as well as other respiratory tract infections such as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza. Furthermore, these guidelines aim to protect the people who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill.

Get tested for COVID-19. This applies both to vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Children who have not yet started preschool, and those who have had a confirmed COVID-19 infection in the past six months, do not normally have to get tested.

Call telephone number 1177 if you need help assessing your symptoms, or advice on where to seek medical care. This especially applies to people in a risk group who might need treatment for diseases other than COVID-19, such as influenza.

Protect yourself and others – recommendations for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must follow the rules from the healthcare service and stay at home for a minimum of seven days after you showed the first symptoms. After these seven days, you may return to work, school or other activities as long as you feel well and have been fever-free for 48 hours – even if you still have some symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, or loss of sense of smell and taste.  

 This is based on the assessment that people who recover from COVID-19 do not infect others after seven days have passed.

If you have taken a test that shows that you have COVID-19, but do not have any symptoms, you must stay home for seven days starting on the day the test was taken.

If you have taken an antigen self-test that shows you have COVID-19, you must also stay home even if you have no symptoms. You must also book a test via 1177.se to confirm you have COVID-19.

It is important to remember that the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act classifies COVID-19 as a disease that is dangerous to both public health and society. Therefore, you are legally required to follow the rules you receive from the healthcare service, in order to prevent the spread of infection. These rules can be found on the Swedish Society of Infectious Diseases website. Search for COVID-19, and click Patientinformation – engelska for the latest version.

Swedish Society of Infectious Diseases website

Specific procedures apply for patients with serious cases being cared for at hospital.

If necessary, call 1177 for medical advice.

If you test negative for COVID-19

The significance of the results may depend on the type of test you have taken.

If you have symptoms and take a PCR test that shows you do not have COVID-19, you can return to work, school, or other activities if you feel well. If you have had a fever, you should have been fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning to word or school etc. This applies even if you have certain symptoms of a respiratory infection.

Use the guidelines to help you determine if you or your child are in good enough health to return to preschool, school, activities, and work.

In some cases, you will have to be home for a few days, and in others, up to a week or longer.

Follow the standard sick leave procedures in place at your workplace, school, or other activities.

If you have symptoms and have taken an antigen test (rapid test) through the healthcare service which showed you do not have COVID-19, you might need to take another test before you can return to work, school, other organisation or activities. You will be given further instructions when you receive you test result. Do not use antigen self-tests if you have symptoms.

In certain situations, an antigen test can also be taken if you do not have symptoms. If the test results are negative, generally you will not need to take a new test. If you have been tested as part of contact tracing, you may be given other information that you must then follow.

If you have had COVID-19 in the past six months

You should always stay home if you experience new symptoms of a respiratory infection, even if you have previously had COVID-19. Signs of a respiratory infection are for example a runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough, and feeling generally unwell. You can return to preschool, school, work, and leisure activities when you have become well. If you have had a fever, you should be fever-free for at least 24 hours. Some respiratory symptoms may persist for some time after an infection, even in those who have become well. How long you need to stay home is individual. For some people it could be a few days, and for others, around a week or longer. 

If you experience side effects after your COVID-19 vaccination

Stay home if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the past few days and develop symptoms that are typical for vaccination side effects. Side effects include tiredness, fever, chills, aching muscles and joints and headaches. If these symptoms continue after 24 hours, it is unlikely that they are side effects and you should take a COVID-19 test.

If you or your child has not taken a test

All adults and children from preschool class age and above are recommended to get tested when they experience symptoms of COVID-19. If you have not taken a test, you should act as if you have the disease and stay home for seven days.

If you have had COVID-19 in the past six months, you do not generally need to get tested.

If you do not take a test, even though you have symptoms, you are recommended to stay home for seven days. The last two days should be fever-free. After seven days, you can return to work, school, and other activities, even if you still have some symptoms. When it comes to children, they should be in a general good condition and have the energy to participate in regular activities. Based on the recommendations, you need to assess yourself whether you feel well enough to return to school, activities and work. As a guardian, you make the assessment for your child.

How long do preschool children need to stay home?

A child with new symptoms of a respiratory infection such as a runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough or feeling generally unwell,  needs to stay home until their condition has improved. If the child has had a fever, they must have been fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning to preschool. The child can return to preschool and other activities, even if they still have some respiratory symptoms. As their parent or guardian, you determine when your child can return to preschool.

  • Follow these guidelines each time new symptoms appear.
  • Contact your regular healthcare centre or 1177 if you need medical advice.
  • Other procedures may apply in conjunction with contact tracing.

Young children often catch colds

Children of preschool age catch colds more often than older children and adults. Testing a young child each time they catch a cold can be unpleasant for the child. It can also be difficult for parents and guardians to determine when and how often COVID-19 testing is relevant. Therefore, we primarily recommend that children of preschool age stay home without getting tested.

It is important that children who have problems with asthma and allergies do not miss more preschool or school than others. Sometimes, it can be difficult to say early on if a problem is being caused by pollen or a virus. Therefore, it can be suitable to stay home for a day or two to see if the problem gets better after the child receives medication for pollen allergies. Children can also be affected by pollen allergies during the autumn. It is important that parents and guardians discuss symptoms of pollen allergy and any medication with the child’s preschool.