Assessment and testing for COVID-19

Information on who should be assessed and how to get tested.

This page was last updated on 31 July 2020.

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as cold or flu symptoms, contact Healthline (0800 358 5453) or your doctor to find out if you need a test.

If you are offered a test for COVID-19, please take it. It will help us ensure we don’t have community transmission, and help keep your friends, family and whānau safe.

 A COVID-19 test is free of charge. However, you may need to pay for a test if it's for the purpose of entering another country. See advice for travellers for more information.

Getting assessed

Who should get assessed for COVID-19?

People with any of the COVID-19 symptoms should get assessed.

For details of the symptoms see About COVID-19.

For urgent medical care please call 111. 

Who to contact

Call your doctor if you are feeling unwell or have any one of the COVID-19 symptoms. They will talk with you and arrange for you to be assessed and tested if appropriate. This assessment will be based on your symptoms and circumstances.

You can also call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. This is free and you can call any time, it is open all day every day. Someone will talk with you about your symptoms and arrange for you to be assessed.

Healthline also has access to interpreters if you need one.

Please tell them if you have travelled overseas recently, have been in contact with someone who has recently travelled, or are a close contact of a confirmed case.

Getting tested

Testing is available at many General Practices (GPs) and at community-based assessment centres. You can call Healthline to find out about testing facilities in your area.

Healthline or your doctor will tell you what you need to do if you need to be tested. Some health care centres may ask you to wait in your car or a waiting area.

During your assessment the doctor or nurse may wear personal protective equipment and will ask you questions about your:

  • symptoms
  • general health
  • living situation.

If you are offered a test for COVID-19, please take it.

We particularly encourage you to be tested if you develop symptoms and you are a health care worker, aged care worker, or if you would have a greater risk of poor health outcomes if you were to get COVID-19. This includes if you are Māori, Pasifika, older than 70 years, or have certain pre-existing health conditions.

Having a support person while getting tested

You can ask someone to help you get to the doctor and be with you while you are being assessed and tested.

If you are very unwell and advised by Healthline or your doctor that you need to be assessed or tested at the hospital, you can ask someone to help you get there. If you need someone with you at the hospital, you or your support person should call ahead and discuss this with the doctor or nurse at the hospital.

Who needs to self-isolate

Most people do not need to self-isolate while waiting for a test result. However, if you have symptoms you should stay home while unwell and follow the advice of your health practitioner on when you can return to work or school.

 You will only be asked to self-isolate if you:

  • have travelled overseas recently
  • have been in contact with someone who has recently travelled
  • are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19.

You should minimise contact with others in your household while you wait for the test result. Others in your house only need to self-isolate while you wait for results if you are a close contact of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

Read more about Self-isolation for close contacts.

Testing at the border

If you are in contact with people arriving from overseas, for example if you work at the border, you will be provided with additional health checks and testing. This is because New Zealand’s greatest risk of COVID-19 spreading is at our border.

People who will be provided with additional checks and testing include:

  • People in managed isolation or quarantine facilities
  • Border workers in customs, biosecurity, immigration and aviation security at airports, people who clean in areas used by arriving travellers, or who clean the aircraft, and people working in airside services such as foodhalls where people in transit may be waiting
  • Border workers at our maritime ports such as ships’ pilots, stevedores, and those providing seafarer welfare support as well as people working in customs, immigration and public health at our maritime ports
  • Staff who work in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, including those who drive people entering the country from the airport to the facilities
  • Staff who test people who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • Air crew

Read more about our Surveillance plan and testing strategy.

Testing for travellers leaving New Zealand

Some countries require travellers to confirm a negative COVID-19 test before they leave New Zealand. You can check the requirements of the country you are travelling to, by contacting their local High Commission, Embassy or Consulate in New Zealand.

If you need a COVID-19 test prior to departure please see Advice for travellers.

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