Advice for people with COVID-19

Most people with COVID-19 (particularly those who are fully vaccinated) are likely to have a mild to moderate infection and will fully recover at home (or in other alternative accommodation). Learn about infection and care, isolating at home, what to expect and care in the community.

On this page: 

Finding out you have tested positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 your doctor or a health professional will be in contact with you. They will explain what it means to have COVID-19 and what you are required to do.

You will need to provide details of where you have been recently and who you have seen. This helps us get in touch with other people who need to isolate.

You need to isolate at home (or in other suitable accommodation) until a health team says you can leave. Make sure you have your phone with you at all time and answer any calls.

If you have difficulties breathing or feel faint or dizzy at any stage, call 111 immediately. Tell them you have COVID-19 when you ring.

If you are isolating at home and feel you are getting more unwell, call the COVID Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your GP.

If you have COVID and you’ve been asked to isolate at home, here’s some information about your symptoms – and when and who to phone.

You’ll be given the number for a healthcare team in case you need them. While you’re isolating you’ll need to keep an eye on your symptoms. You might be asked to take some recordings like your heart rate and oxygen levels.

What does that mean?


These are the things you’ll need to check and write down.

Taking your temperature IF YOU HAVE A THERMOMETER - not everyone gets a fever

but it’s worth knowing how to do it.

You may need to measure your blood oxygen levels and heart rate using a pulseoximeter.


How your breathing is GOING

And any new symptoms you have.

Knowing WHEN and WHO to call for help is really important.

CALL 111 IF:

  • you have a sudden change in breathing or bad chest pain (clutching chest)
  • you’re confused or not thinking clearly. (person looking confused or a bitbewildered)
  • you’re feeling faint or pass out (someone faints)


  • you have new or worse trouble breathing (new visuals for each symptom)
  • your symptoms are getting worse (clutching head or tummy)
  • you start feeling better, but then get worse (sitting on side of bed, feeling unwell)
  • you have a VERY dry mouth, aren’t peeing much or are feeling light-headed (CU face) Remember, if in doubt – give them a shout!

COVID 19 infection and care

Most people with COVID-19 develop cold and flu-like symptoms that can last up to two weeks.

Most symptoms can be managed with:

  • bed rest (if lying down, change position every 30 minutes to two hours)
  • taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve headaches, aches and fevers
  • keeping hydrated with regular sips of water
  • honey or lozenges for a sore throat
  • decongestants for a blocked nose.

Continue to take any regular medication. Some people will be prescribed medication to reduce their chance of needing hospital level care.

It is important to track your symptoms every day in case you become more unwell and need urgent medical care.

Most people will recover within two weeks but others may have persistent symptoms for months.

It’s important to rest at home and drink plenty of liquids when you have COVID.

Here are some ways to ease some of the symptoms you might be experiencing.

I’ve had a few aches and pains and my healthcare team said I could take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with fever, body aches and headaches.

My nose has gone from blocked to runny and I’ve been coughing a bit. So, I’m allowed to use a nasal spray, decongestants, lozenges and cough mixture.

I’ve tried a couple of things for my sore throat, like salt-water gargle. (pulls a face)

A Teaspoon of honey went down a bit better!!

I got the pharmacy to deliver lozenges and some throat spray.

I’ve been throwing up and pooing all day. It’s not fun, but I’m keeping my fluids up, best I can. Sucking an ice-cube or ice-block is good.

Even if you experience mild or no symptoms, it’s important to stay hydrated – this means drink plenty of liquids or rehydration drinks like Gastrolyte.

Keep monitoring your symptoms so you can stay on top of any changes. Avoid running, or strenuous exercise.

Just chill.

You can do this and if at anytime you have any concerns that healthcare team is just a phone call away.

Isolating from others

Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19, those who live with them, and their close contacts will need to isolate from the community to help stop the spread of the virus.

There are two ways to isolate:

  • at home (or in other suitable accommodation)
  • in a managed isolation facility.

You should self-isolate until you are told you no longer need to do so by a public health official.

If you become seriously unwell while isolating at home, you will receive hospital care if this is in line with your needs and wishes.

If you’ve been told you’ve got COVID or you think you might have it, it’s really important to isolate at home. This will help stop the virus from spreading.

Isolating can be really hard, especially if you live with whānau, friends or in smaller spaces.

You have to stay physically distanced from the rest of the household. It can help if you have a sleepout. If that’s not possible, stay in your room as much as you can and open windows to improve the airflow.

There are some important rules you should follow.

Stay at home

Kia ora John. I’m not feeling that great. I’ve got my results back and I’ve got the virus. No club night for me. I’ll be staying put for now.

Don’t leave home for food or medicines.

Koro, I’m leaving your brekky outside the door. And I’m making a list for online shopping.

Anything you need?

If you live alone or with others, arrange for someone to drop off food or medicines. Or you can get them delivered.

If you need to use the toilet or bathroom, use a separate one if you have it. If that’s not possible, use it after everyone else has been.

When you leave your room, wear a mask and keep 2 metres away from others.

Just going for a shower, kids.

We’re putting our masks on!

Hi guys, koro’s not too well. We’re all isolating so we can’t see you for a while, sorry.

If you are asked to stay at home with COVID-19, you’ll need to monitor your own symptoms. You can get help from a healthcare team if you need it. Kia ora e hoa. I’m outside getting some fresh air. I’m a bit hōhā but all good. Yep, I’m keeping track of my symptoms and got the kids running round after me.

You can do this and if at any time you have any concerns, a healthcare team is just a phone call away.

Positive cases

  • The isolation period for COVID-19 cases in the community is at least 14 days, including 72 hours symptom-free.
  • Your household members will need to remain in isolation for at least 10 days after you have been released as a case. This means they will need to be in isolation for longer than you as the case will.

Close contacts

  • The isolation period for close contacts is 10 days from last exposure. You will need to be tested immediately and on day 5 and day 8 after last exposure. 

If you refuse or are unable to be tested, you may be required to isolate for longer. Public health officials will guide you.

If you are a Close Contact and have, or later develop, any COVID-19 symptoms the people in your immediate household should stay at home until you receive a negative test result. Public health officials will provide you with further advice. 

For more information about what staying at home means, see Staying at home.

What to do when isolating 

  • You should not leave the house for any reason while you are awaiting a test result, are a COVID-19 case or household member of a case, until you receive a negative test result or until you’re cleared by public health staff.
  • Only exercise at home or in your garden.
  • Get supplies of food/kai and medicine by asking your whanau and friends to shop for you, or by ordering supplies online if possible. Identify a safe drop-off point outside the house for them to leave supplies.
    • If you need assistance, the Ministry of Social Development has information about where you can go for services and support, what you can get help with, and contact information.
  • Maintain a 2-metre distance from your household members and do not share a bed or bedroom with any member of your household.
  • Minimise the time you spend in shared spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens and sitting rooms as much as possible and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
  • If you need medical assistance, call ahead to your health provider and tell them you are have COVID-19 or are a close contact. If you need urgent medical help or are having difficulties breathing, call 111 immediately.

What not to do when isolating

  • Don’t have visitors, except people providing essential care to you or someone in the household.
  • Don’t leave your home (except if seeking urgent medical care). So, don’t go out to get food/kai or medicine, don’t go to work, school or public places and don’t go on public transport or using taxis.
  • Don’t go to work. If you are unable to work from home during this time, your employer (or you, if you are self-employed) may be able to apply for leave support to help support you. For more information, visit the Work and Income website.
  • Don’t get vaccinated until you have recovered. If you have a vaccination appointment scheduled, either ring the booking line or go online to change your appointment.

Tips for keeping your whānau safe

To help reduce the spread of germs, if possible, you should:  

  • Stay away from others in your home – stay out of rooms where others are and do not share a bed if possible. Do not prepare food for others.
  • Wear a face mask or face covering. It is recommended each household member has a minimum of two face coverings, and that each is washed at the end of the day.
  • As much as possible, open windows and doors to allow air to flow through your house.
  • Wipe down surfaces shared with others like bathroom taps and kitchen benches with soap, water and a cloth after each use. Do not share dishes and cutlery, towels and pillows.
  • Please do your own laundry.
  • Wash your hands often and cough or sneeze into an elbow or a tissue.

Care in the community

Care in the community is where people are supported while isolating at home by local care providers. They will ensure your health, welfare and wellbeing needs are met while you recover from COVID-19.

You will be provided a contact person to make sure that you and your whānau are safe and supported. They will tell you how often they plan to call you to check how you are going. You will be given a telephone number for 24 hour health support.

Key points of contacts for health support may differ across the country. Your point of contact may be an individual or a team from your general practice, primary care provider or from a local community health service.

Your contact person will tell you how often they plan to call you to check on how you are going.

If you need medication, contact your local community pharmacy or GP who will arrange for your medication to be safely delivered to your home.

What to expect

Within the first 24 hours of getting your test result

Someone will be in touch to provide support and information. Your immediate health, welfare and wellbeing needs will be discussed.

Within the first 48 hours of getting your test result

You’ll receive a pack with information on looking after yourself. It will also include any required health equipment to help you keep track of your recovery, such as a pulse oximeter if you need one.

From 48 hours onwards

How often you receive health and wellbeing checks while you are self-isolating will depend on your symptoms and recovery.

If you have moderate symptoms or are more at risk, you are likely to receive a virtual health check every day.

If you have mild symptoms, you will likely receive a virtual health check from your health provider every second day.

If you need urgent medical help or are having difficulties breathing, call 111 immediately. Tell them you have COVID-19 when you call.

Everyone else in your home will need to be tested regularly to check whether they have a COVID-19 infection. You will be advised when, how and where this needs to be done.

10 to 14 days 

You will have a health assessment by a medical practitioner at 10 to 14 days. You will need to be free of COVID-19 symptoms for the 72 hours before you can leave your home, and continue to have no symptoms. If approved by a healthcare provider, you will be able to leave your house the next day. 

You do not need to be tested. If you were the result would likely show as positive but that does not mean you are infectious.

Beyond 10 to 14 days

Anyone you live with will need to stay home for the entire time you (and anyone else in your household who tests positive) are isolating. Once the last person who has tested positive for COVID-19 finishes isolation, the remaining members of the household will have a further period of 10 days in isolation. This means they will need to isolate for longer than you.

Guidance for self-isolating in apartments, temporary or holiday accommodation

If you are self-isolating in an apartment building, multi-unit dwelling, temporary or holiday accommodation, you should self-isolate for the time period directed by public health and follow all the same health advice as applies to people self-isolating at home (please see above).

There is additional guidance for occupants of apartments and Body Corporate Committees about how to prepare for and manage an apartment building where a COVID-19 case is self-isolating.

There is also additional guidance for people isolating in temporary or holiday accommodation, and for managers and owners of holiday and temporary housing.

This guidance is based on international guidelines and best current evidence available as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Further updates may be made as new evidence emerges and in response to the level of community transmission in New Zealand.


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