Testing continues to help us eliminate COVID-19 in New Zealand. 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.
Testing helps us:
- identify cases of COVID-19
- manage clusters of cases if we find them
- track how well our efforts are working.
The highest priority for testing is to test people who are symptomatic and have:
- been in contact with a confirmed or probable case
- travelled internationally in the past 14 days
- had direct contact with a person who has travelled overseas. This could include Customs, Immigration, and Managed Isolation and Quarantine staff
- worked on an international aircraft or shipping vessel, or
- cleaned at an international airport or maritime port in areas visited by international arrivals.
Testing people with symptoms
Anyone presenting to health services with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should be offered testing to help ensure that we don’t have community transmission in New Zealand.
However, we particularly encourage you to get tested if you have symptoms and you are:
- a healthcare worker
- an aged-care worker
- over 70 years of age, or
- if you have a pre-existing condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease or diabetes.
Getting a test
Getting tested early helps protect those around you.
If you have cold or flu symptoms, please call:
- your doctor
- iwi health provider, or
- Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.
A health professional will let you know the next steps and whether you should get a test.
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.
How testing works
If you need to be tested for COVID-19, a sample is taken from you.
There’s more than 1 way to take a sample. The most common method is to swab the back of your nose. A swab is like a small cotton-bud but with a longer stick.
That sample goes to a lab to be analysed. The lab results may take some time.
When you are tested you will be told when and how to expect your results. Whether you test positive or negative, you will be notified about your results.
Most people do not need to self-isolate while waiting for a test result — your medical professional will advise you on this.
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.
If you are tested you should follow the advice you’re given about what to do next.
Help protect healthcare workers when getting tested
If you get tested, we need your help to keep healthcare workers safe. That means continuing to cough and sneeze into your elbow, and staying 2 metres away from other people wherever possible.
Follow any instructions you get, like turning up on time, calling ahead or waiting in your car.
People testing you may wear protective equipment likes gowns or face coverings — this is nothing to worry about, it helps protect them and everyone they are testing.
If you test positive
Our health system will continue to support anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, medical professionals will advise you on what you need to do.
For most people, this will mean self-isolating at home, with health staff contacting you daily to check on your health and wellbeing. They will provide any support or advice you may need.
Health agencies will identify and contact trace anyone that you have come into close contact with.
Recovering from COVID-19
The health team responsible for your daily health checks will let you know when you are no longer at risk of infecting others with COVID-19.
They will assess you as recovered if you meet all the following criteria:
- It must have been at least 10 days since you got your symptoms.
- You need to have been clear of all symptoms for 72 hours.
If you were hospitalised, it must be at least 10 days after you are discharged from the hospital and you must be clear of all symptoms for 72 hours.
If you have had COVID-19 but have not had any symptoms, you will be assessed as recovered when it has been 10 days since you had a positive test.
Testing data in New Zealand
The Ministry of Health is recording testing data by region and by ethnicity within regions. This helps us ensure we have an accurate picture of any future spread of COVID-19 and can respond in the best way. It also helps to keep track of who is being tested, including vulnerable communities or at-risk groups with underlying health conditions.