How to get a test
Getting tested early helps protect those around you.
If you have symptoms
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 if you should get a test.
People at risk
We particularly encourage you to get tested if you have symptoms and you’re:
- 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.
It is also a priority 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.
A COVID-19 test is free of charge. This applies whether you have symptoms of COVID-19 or not, and regardless of your citizenship, immigration status, nationality or level of medical insurance coverage.
You may need to pay for a test if it’s for the purpose of entering another country.
If you are asked to pay for a COVID-19 test, please report it to your District Health Board or Primary Health Organisation.
You will not be charged for care if you test positive.
You will need to provide contact details so that your results can be sent to you.
You do not need to have an NHI number or ID to get tested. But it’s helpful if you have your NHI number when you get tested.
If you do not have a visa
Everyone can get tested — you do not need to be a New Zealand citizen or resident. The test is still free, and you will not be charged for care if you test positive. But, you may need to pay for a test if it’s for the purpose of entering another country.
No information will be shared with Immigration New Zealand even if you test positive.
Where to get a test
If you’re unsure if you should get a test, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
Get tested at your GP or Urgent Care Clinic
Most GPs can test for COVID-19, but you need to call them before you turn up.
Get tested at a Community Testing Centre
District Health Boards and Public Health Units regularly update their lists of testing locations. Check back to see if there are new locations near you.
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. But, the most common way is to swab the back of your nose. A swab is like a small cotton-bud but with a longer stick.
For some people this is a tickle, others find it a bit uncomfortable.
The testing staff will tell you whether you need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result or not. Follow their advice about what to do next, and always stay home if you are feeling unwell.
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’re testing.
Getting the results
You’ll get the result within 1 day or 2 if it’s positive. You’ll get a call from your doctor or testing staff, and from the public health unit at your District Health Board. If you miss the original phone calls, you may receive a text message asking you to contact the local public health team to discuss your results.
If it’s negative, it might take up to 5 days. If you have not received your result after 5 days, please contact your GP or the place your test was done.
If you test positive
If you test positive a health professional will call you to discuss:
- all the people you have had contact with recently
- moving you into a quarantine facility
In a quarantine facility, we can look after your health and well-being, and more easily stop the virus spreading. Your family can join you if you want. Otherwise they will need to self-isolate at home.
In quarantine, you will be provided with 3 meals a day and snacks, Wi-Fi, laundry services and basic toiletries and refreshments.
There is no cost to you for these services or the care that you receive.
Going into quarantine
You will usually be asked to move into a quarantine facility as quickly as possible. This helps to make sure we can stop the virus spreading to others, and make sure you’re well looked after.
The staff at the quarantine facility are well-trained on cleaning and hygiene procedures to keep the disease isolated. They have protective equipment to do this safely.
Quarantine facility staff will closely monitor your physical and mental health during your stay.
A staff member from your public health unit will support you in making all necessary arrangements, including transport to the facility.
Your household close contacts will need to self-isolate. It’s up to you and your family/household to decide:
- if you want to isolate together in a quarantine facility, or
- if the person with COVID-19 goes into quarantine alone.
A staff member from your public health unit will support you in making these decisions and arrangements.
Staying in quarantine
On arrival, you will be provided with a ‘welcome pack’ with information about what to expect during your stay.
You will be provided with 3 meals a day and snacks, Wi-Fi, laundry services and basic toiletries and refreshments, so you don’t need to leave to get supplies.
There is no cost to you for these services or the care that you receive.
If you’re unwell, a dedicated health team will be caring for you.
If you become very unwell you may need to go to hospital. In this case, the hospital will take the steps needed to isolate you while giving you the medical care you need. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will not need to pay for your stay in quarantine, or for any COVID-19 related medical costs.
Returning home from a quarantine facility
The health team that cares for you will determine when you can return home and resume your everyday activities. They will need to be confident you are no longer infectious.
If you had a mild to moderate illness that didn’t need hospital care, this will be:
- at least 10 days after the onset of your symptoms, and
- after you have had no symptoms for at least 72 hours.
If you had a more severe illness that required hospital care you will need more time before you can return home and resume your usual activities. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
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.