COVID-19 symptoms

What the COVID-19 symptoms are, how fast they appear and what to do if you have any symptoms.

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • a new or worsening cough
  • a fever of at least 38°C
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose 
  • temporary loss of smell.

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as colds and flu.

Shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

Less common symptoms

Some people may also have less common symptoms such as only: 

  • fever
  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • confusion and irritability.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor, Healthline or your iwi health provider.

Time for symptoms to appear

We do not yet know how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected, but current World Health Organization assessments suggest that it’s 2 to 10 days.

If you have any symptoms

Talk to a health professional

If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call:

  • Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453
  • your doctor, or
  • your iwi health provider.

A health professional will advise whether you fit the criteria for testing. Call your doctor before visiting if you have any symptoms.

Let your health professional know if you have travelled internationally in the past 14 days, or if you have been in contact with a confirmed or probable case.

If you’re outside New Zealand call +64 9 358 5453 or your doctor.

While you have symptoms

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms call your doctor or Healthline and check if you should get tested.
  • Wash your hands. 
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow, and regularly disinfect shared surfaces.
  • If you are told by health authorities to self-isolate, do so immediately. If you are awaiting test results you will also need to self-isolate. 

Information about testing for COVID-19

How COVID-19 spreads

Like the flu, COVID-19 is usually spread from person to person. People can catch the virus through their eyes, nose or mouth.

Scientific evidence suggests that COVID-19 is spread by droplets. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may spread droplets containing the virus.

People may get infected by the virus if they touch surfaces or objects that have been touched by an infected person, or if droplets have settled there. 

People could also get infected if droplets remain in the air for a few minutes, or longer. While it is unlikely people will get infected this way, the risk becomes higher:

  • in enclosed spaces that do not have good airflow
  • in crowded places
  • during loud conversations.

Keep up good hygiene

That’s why it’s really important to use good hygiene, at any time. 

  • Regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
  • Clean or disinfect shared surfaces regularly.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call your doctor or Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.

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