How to self-isolate

What you need to know about self-isolating if you have COVID-19 or are a household contact.

What to do when self-isolating

Self-isolation means staying at home for the whole time you are required to be there. It also means taking common-sense precautions to avoid any contact with those you live with. This advice applies to both people who are positive for COVID-19 and people who are contacts.

  • Avoid contact with others you live with — for example, sleep by yourself if you can and limit the time you spend in shared spaces. If you cannot, you should stay at least 2 metres apart and wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth when near others.
  • Do not prepare food for others. If people are leaving you meals, tell them to leave it at the door and only collect it once they have moved away from the area.
  • Do not share items with others in your household — for example, dishes, toothbrushes, and towels.
  • Do your own laundry.
  • Do not have visitors in your home. This includes tradespeople, unless it is an emergency.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly. This includes items frequently touched like door handles, light switches and phones.
  • We recommend opening windows to increase fresh air flow inside. The risk of spreading COVID-19 is highest in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
  • If you need food, prescriptions or essential items get friends or family to leave them on your doorstep, or get supplies delivered.

You can download and print posters for your home to tell people you are self-isolating:

Download — we are self-isolating poster [PDF, 1.5 MB]

When you have COVID-19

Most people with COVID-19 are likely to have a mild to moderate illness and are able to fully recover in their own home.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate for at least 7 days while you recover from COVID-19. Start counting your 7 days from day 0. Day 0 is the day that your symptoms started or the day that you got tested if you do not have any symptoms.

You can isolate in your home or suitable alternative accommodation. This could be another property that you have access to, or are provided, that is more suitable for self-isolation than where you usually live. 

It is normal to feel nervous or unsure about what the next few weeks will look like.

If you have COVID-19, the COVID-19 Health Hub has more advice:

I have tested positive for COVID-19 | covid19.health.nz (external link)

If you have COVID-19

If you need to go into hospital

If you need urgent medical help or cannot breathe properly, call 111 immediately. Tell them you have COVID-19 when you ring.

In some cases, people with COVID-19 become very unwell and need to be admitted 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 a more severe illness and require hospital care, you will need more time before you can return home and resume your usual activities. A health professional will assess this case by case.

You will not have to pay for any COVID-19 related medical costs.

When you are a Household Contact

You are a Household Contact if you live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Whether you are fully vaccinated or not, you will need to:

  • self-isolate from the day the person with COVID-19 tests positive or is notified as a probable case until they complete 7 days of isolation
  • get a test for COVID-19 on Day 3, and on Day 7 of the isolation period, or sooner if you develop symptoms. If you test positive, you need to follow the guidance for people who have COVID-19.

When you can leave self-isolation

If someone else in your household tests positive, you do not need to restart your isolation period. You can complete your isolation at the same time as the first person in your household who had COVID-19 if:

  • your Day 7 test was negative
  • you have no new or worsening symptoms.

For further guidance and advice, visit the COVID-19 Health Hub:

I am a household contact of someone with COVID-19 | COVID-19 Health Hub (external link)

When you are a Close Contact

You are a Close Contact if you have had contact with a person with COVID-19, but you do not live with them.

You do not need to self-isolate. If you develop symptoms, get a test and stay home until a negative test result is returned.

If you are a Close Contact, the COVID-19 Health Hub has more advice:

I am a close contact of someone with COVID-19 | covid19.health.nz (external link)

What Close Contacts need to do

When you are a critical worker and a Household Contact

If you are a critical worker and a Household Contact, you will still be able to go to work providing you are fully vaccinated, do not have symptoms and have a negative rapid antigen test  (RAT) before going to work. Your employer will let you know if this applies to you.

When you are not at work, you must follow the self-isolating guidance.

Critical workers

Support

You will need to pay attention to how you are feeling and look out for worsening symptoms.

If you need urgent medical help or cannot breathe properly, call 111 immediately. Tell them you have COVID-19 when you ring.

It is understandable to feel a range of emotions while unwell. Reach out to friends and whānau for support, or use a support service that is available.

Looking after your mental wellbeing

Wellbeing helplines and support

If you need help or financial support, there are several options available while you are self-isolating.

Help while self-isolating

Financial support

COVID-19 support

What to do after you have had COVID-19

After you have recovered from COVID-19 and completed you isolation, there are a few things you should do.

What to expect after you have had COVID-19

Last updated: at