Managing a positive Covid-19 result at home

Positive result notification

Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are now the main testing method. You may have a supervised RAT done at a medical centre or you may be provided a RAT to do at home. 

Once you have done a RAT test or received your result from a supervised RAT test, please lodge this in to your My COVID Record or call 0800 222 478 and press 3 to report.
If the test is Positive, you will get a text message from the public health unit with a link to an online form. Click on the link to complete the form.

Step 1: Isolate (taratahi) at home

  • Use this Readiness Checklist to ensure your household is prepared if someone gets COVID-19
  • Isolate at home (or in other suitable accommodation) with your household contacts for ten days. Make sure you always have your phone with you and answer any calls. 
  • Follow the most up to date testing advice for your household contacts - visit the Ministry of Health website for the latest advice.
  • Do not go out to get food or medical supplies. If you need something you can ask someone to drop it off and leave it outside for you.
Questions or Concerns?
  • If you have any questions regarding your isolation, please call the COVID-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (24 hours, 7 days per week).

Step 2: Managing your symptoms

COVID-19 symptoms vary widely. Some people have mild symptoms for the most part of the illness but others may notice their lung (respiratory) symptoms start to get worse, especially older people and people who have other conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, asthma or diabetes.

How ill you get will vary depending on your vaccination status and risk of developing serious illness. Due to NZ's high rate of vaccination and the booster program underway it's likely most people will only experience mild/moderate symptoms. As the Omicron outbreak becomes more widespread most people with mild to moderate symptoms will be expected to self-manage their illness at home, or in suitable accommodation, with support from their local healthcare providers only as needed. It is important that you keep track of your symptoms and contact your doctor or health provider right away if you become more unwell as some people may require hospital admission.

See How to self-manage COVID-19

Common symptoms: include fever (high temperature), tiredness, coughing/sneezing and loss of sense of taste or smell. Less common symptoms are sore throat, headache, aches and pain, diarrhoea (runny poo), a rash and red or irritated eyes.

Track your symptoms: filling out a Symptom Diary helps keep track of how you are feeling and whether you are getting better, staying the same, or getting worse - download one here. The information you record in your symptom diary will be useful to share with your health provider if you become more unwell. Things you may want to record include:

  • How you are feeling
  • Your temperature (if you have access to a thermometer)
  • Your pulse oximeter readings (if you have access to one)
  • Your heart rate (pulse) (if you have access to a pulse oximeter)
  • Your breathing rate
  • Any new symptoms you have

Treating symptoms at home: 

  • 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 your regular medication. Some people will be prescribed medication to reduce their chance of needing hospital care. Most people will recover within 2 weeks, but others may have persistent symptoms for months

How long do symptoms last?: Usually as long as the common cold or flu, though they may last longer (up to 4 weeks). Days 5-10 of COVID-19 are often the most worrisome time for respiratory (lung) complications, particularly for older patients and those with underlying conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes.

What if symptoms get worse? This table provides some general guidance on what to do. Fill in the contact information for your health care team and keep this page handy. If you become more unwell, somebody else can help make a decision about what to do for you. You can also call the COVID-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

When to contact us and useful links

Contact your GP or Covid Care health provider:
  • If you have moderate or severe symptoms, or are at high risk of serious illness, or your mild symptoms get worse, and we will come back to you with a plan
  • You do not need to contact us if you have mild or no symptoms or to report a positive RAT or PCR result
Call 111 if you:
  • Have severe trouble breathing or severe chest pain
  • Are very confused or not thinking clearly
  • Feel faint or pass out (lose consciousness)
Or call Healthline free:
  • For general health advice and information 0800 611 116 anytime 24 hours, 7 days
  • For COVID-19 health advice 0800 358 5453 anytime 24 hours, 7 days
  • For COVID-19 vaccination advice 0800 28 29 26 (8am - 8pm 7 days a week)
  • Community Isolation and Quarantine Advice Line 0800 OUR MIQ (0800 687 647)

Useful links

  • We welcome your feedback and always strive to provide the best care and advice.  Let us know how we did. If things didn't go the way you wanted there may be something we can do to help put it right.

    1.  Online Form Direct to Your Medical Centre

    2.  Or Email Our Clinical Advisory Team

    • If you don’t feel comfortable talking with anyone in your medical centre directly, you can complete the feedback form below and one of our National Clinical Advisory Team will follow up with you.
  • 3.  Or for more information and other ways to give feedback, you can also contact:

Helpful resources when you get a positive result