Stay home if you’re sick

Staying at home if you’re sick is still the best thing you can do to stop any future spread of COVID-19.

If you’re sick

If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call your doctor 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.

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.

When to stay home

Staying at home if you’re sick is the best thing you can do to stop any future spread of COVID-19.

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

Self-isolation

If you’re waiting for COVID-19 test results, and have been told you need 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.

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 be opened. 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 and 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 okay 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, putting them in the dishwasher for cleaning, or washing them in the sink.

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 to others in your home.

Towels

Make sure you use separate towels from other people in your house, both for drying yourself after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes. Ask your family and whānau or the people you live with to use their own towels and keep them separate.

Laundry

We recommend doing your own laundry. 

Dirty laundry that has been in contact with a sick person can be washed 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 a supply of laundry items to you.

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

COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme

If you have been told by a health official to self-isolate and you cannot work from home, your employer 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.

The COVID-19 Leave Support is paid as a lump sum, calculated to cover 2 weeks. Your employer can re-apply for you if you still qualify after 2 weeks.

If you work in health, disability or aged-care facilities or services and you have COVID-19 symptoms, your employer can tell you to self-isolate while you wait to get a test or you are waiting for your test results. You will still be eligible for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

More about the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme, who is eligible and how employers can apply (external link)

Who decides if you need to self-isolate

You must have been told to self-isolate by a health official such as:

  • a Medical Officer of Health or their delegate, for example a DHB Public Health Unit
  • a medical practitioner, for example a doctor or GP
  • a health official through the Ministry of Health’s National Contact Tracing process
  • your employer — if you are a healthcare, disability or aged-care worker — following best practice guidance from the Ministry of Health.

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