Self-isolation advice if you're unwell

If you're unwell, it's vital you stay home and recover.

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It’s critical you stay home and recover

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

If you have COVID-19, or if you’re feeling unwell, it’s critical you stay at home and recover.

Limit contact with others you live with

Everybody you live with must stay at home.

Housemates with symptoms

If somebody you live with develops symptoms of COVID-19 like a cough, fever, shortness of breath, sneezing or a runny nose, they should call their regular doctor.

If they don't have a regular doctor they can call Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.

Sleeping arrangements

If you’re unwell, you should not be 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.

Clean regularly

Clean surfaces with disinfectant after you use them. Try to avoid touching them after you have cleaned them. This includes areas like kitchen benches and sink tops. 

Shared bathrooms

If you use a shared toilet and bathroom, it’s important that you clean them after you have used them every time. For example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with. It's a good idea to be the last to use the shower/bath in the morning or evening to make this easier on those you live with. You should use your own roll of toilet paper, hand towels, toothpaste and other supplies during your illness. 

Shared kitchens

If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while others are present. Take your meals back to your room to eat. It may be easier for someone else in your household to prepare your food and you avoid the kitchen area. 

If you have a dishwasher use it to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery. If this isn't possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly, remembering to use a separate tea towel.

We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face and clean frequently touched surfaces.

Items you shouldn’t share

Don’t share dishes, drinking glasses, cups or eating utensils with other people in your home. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water, place them in the dishwasher for cleaning, or wash them in the sink.

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

Don't share food and drinks. Someone in your home can prepare your food, but you should not prepare 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.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is always important, but especially in times of emergency. Breastfeeding provides immunological protections to the breastfed child. Most often, babies who are breastfed remain healthy even when their parents or other family members are unwell with an infectious illness.

Considering the benefits of breastfeeding, and how seldom breastmilk transmits respiratory viruses, you can continue breastfeeding while applying all necessary precautions:

  • Wash your hands before and after contact with your baby including feeding, nappy change, holding.
  • Clean and disinfect any surfaces you touch around you.
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby.
  • Ensure you cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue that you put into the bin or a bag immediately, then wash your hands thoroughly.

Breastfeeding with COVID-19

If you become infected shortly before giving birth, or you have developed COVID-19 symptoms

If you have become infected with COVID-19 shortly before giving birth, or if you have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 and are waiting for test results, your midwife and the doctors caring for you will advise you about the potential for your baby to develop COVID-19 through close contact.

There's no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through breastmilk, so you can still choose to breastfeed while taking some additional specific precautions. 

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 while breastfeeding:

  • continue handwashing before and after you feed
  • wear a surgical mask. These will be provided by your midwife
  • avoid kissing and touching your baby’s face and avoid touching your own face
  • increase the cleaning and disinfecting of contaminated surfaces. This should be done in all cases where anyone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 interacts with others, including children.  

If you're too unwell to breastfeed, you should express your milk and give it to your baby via a bottle — all while following the same infection prevention methods.

If you become unwell after giving birth

If you become unwell in the days or weeks after giving birth and you're breastfeeding your baby, it's important not to interrupt breastfeeding. Your baby will already have been exposed to the virus and will benefit from continued breastfeeding.

Your baby will also be considered a close contact of a confirmed case and you'll be provided advice about this from your Public Health Unit.

Don’t have visitors in your home

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

You should not have visitors to your home, but it's okay for friends, family, whānau or delivery drivers to drop off food and supplies. Ask them to leave items at the door.

You should also avoid visiting others if you're unwell. Stay home until you have fully recovered.

Laundry

You should do your own laundry. 

Dirty laundry that has been in contact with a sick person can be washed with other people’s items. 

Don't 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 don't have a washing machine, wait until you’ve recovered and the isolation period has ended before taking your laundry to a laundrette.

Reporting breaches of self-isolation

If you have read through these self-isolation guidelines and believe you have observed behaviour that isn't appropriate and you are certain the individuals concerned should be self-isolating complete the Police online report.

Police online reporting form (external link)

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