Stay home if you’re sick

Staying at home if you’re sick is one way to stop any possible spread of COVID-19.

If you’re sick

If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call your GP or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested.

By getting a test, you’re helping keep your community safe. Testing is always free for everyone.

COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms can include one or more of the following:

  • sneezing and runny nose
  • a new or worsening cough
  • sore throat
  • a fever of at least 38°C
  • shortness of breath
  • temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste
  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • muscle pain or body aches
  • nausea and vomiting.

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are like 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.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your GP, Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your iwi health provider.

Time for symptoms to appear

Symptoms can take up to 14 days to show after infection. A person with COVID-19 can pass it on to others from up to 2 days before showing symptoms.

Sometimes people may have COVID-19, but not have any symptoms.

When to stay home — self-isolation

Staying at home if you’re sick is one way to stop any possible spread of COVID-19.

If you’re feeling unwell, it’s critical you stay at home and recover.


If you get a COVID-19 test, your health professional will tell you whether you need to self-isolate. If they tell you to self-isolate, you legally must do so immediately.

Self-isolation means staying at home and taking common sense precautions to avoid close contact with those you live with.

Guidance on self-isolation at home | (external link)

Limit contact with others you live with

Housemates with symptoms

If somebody you live with develops cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms they should call their regular health professional.

If they do not have a regular health professional they can call Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.

Sleeping arrangements

If you’re unwell, we recommend not sharing a bed with others. Speak with your family and whānau about sleeping arrangements. Avoid sleeping in a common area until you’re feeling better.

Aim to stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can open. Try to keep the window open as much as possible to enable ventilation and airflow as this will help to keep clean air moving through your room. 

Shared living rooms

Minimise the time you spend in shared spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens and sitting rooms as much as possible. Keep shared spaces clean and well ventilated.

Do not have visitors in your home

While you’re unwell, do not invite or allow social visitors, such as friends, family and whānau, to enter your home. If you want to speak to someone who is not a member of your household, use the phone or other means of contact.

It's OK for friends, family, whānau or delivery drivers to drop off food and supplies. Ask them to leave items at the door.

We recommend also avoiding visiting others if you’re unwell. Stay home until you have fully recovered.

Items you should not share

Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups or eating utensils with other people in your home. After using these items, we recommend washing them thoroughly with soap and water or putting them in the dishwasher for cleaning.

Use your own toothbrushes, towels, washcloths or bed linen.

Do not share food and drinks. Someone in your home can prepare your food, but we recommend not preparing food for others. Wash your clothing and dishes separate from others in your home.


Make sure you use separate towels from other people in your house. Both for drying yourself after bathing or showering and for drying your hands after washing them. Ask your family and whānau or the people you live with to use their own towels and keep them separate.


We recommend doing your own laundry. 

You can wash dirty laundry that has been in contact with a sick person with other people’s items. 

Do not shake dirty laundry. This minimises the possibility of dispersing the virus. It may be easier for someone else to fold and put away clean laundry items such as towels and tea towels. They can also provide you with laundry items.

If you do not have a washing machine, wait until you’re no longer unwell before taking your laundry to a laundrette.

Households with COVID-19 waste — confirmed or suspected

You legally must put contaminated waste items such as tissues or wet wipes into a separate tied or sealed bag. This bag can then go into the general household waste bag or bin.

If you do not have a kerbside service, we recommend still putting all infected waste in a separate tied or sealed bag. Then put that bag into a general household waste bag. Check your local council website for further guidance on disposal options in your area.

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

If you need to self-isolate and you cannot work from home, your employer (or you if you are self-employed) can apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

The scheme means employees and self-employed people receive an income if they cannot work from home while they’re self-isolating. This includes employees on casual contracts.

The Leave Support Scheme is paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 a week for full-time workers who were working 20 hours or more a week
  • $350 a week for part-time workers who were working less than 20 hours a week.

Employers, including self-employed people, and employees need to meet certain criteria to apply for the Leave Support Scheme.

Who is eligible for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, and how to apply (external link)

If you need to miss work to stay home while waiting on a COVID-19 test result and cannot work from home, your employer could apply for the COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment.

COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment

If you’re staying at home because you’re waiting on a COVID-19 test result and you cannot work from home, your employer could apply for the COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment. This payment is also available to self-employed people.

The payment helps businesses keep paying employees who:

A one-off payment of $350 is available for each employee. Your employer can apply for it once for you in any 30-day period. However, they can apply for it again if a health official or doctor tells you to get another test.

Who is eligible for the COVID-19 Short-term Absence Payment, and how to apply (external link)

The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is still available for businesses to help pay employees who need to self-isolate for other reasons, and cannot work from home.

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