What to expect after you have had COVID-19

After you have recovered from COVID-19 and been released from isolation by a health professional, there’s a few things you should do.

Cleaning and disinfecting your home after self-isolating 

Most transmission of COVID-19 occurs through close contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. Although less likely, infection can still occur if someone touches a contaminated object or surface, then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.

The virus can survive on surfaces for a limited time. But it has a fragile outer membrane making it easy to kill through effective cleaning and disinfection. 

Where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19, the virus is more likely to be found on surfaces. All surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected. 

How to clean and disinfect your home

You should wait at least 12 hours before cleaning and disinfecting your home after you or someone in your household has recovered from COVID-19.

You can use regular household cleaning products like detergents or bleach to clean your home. Clean surfaces with detergent first, then use a disinfectant. You can vacuum as usual.

Make sure you:

  • wear gloves when cleaning
  • follow the safety directions on the product label
  • disinfect high touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches and remote controls
  • open windows as much as possible to allow ventilation
  • wash all dishes that you used while isolating — use warm water and detergent or put them in the dishwasher
  • clean cloths and mop heads after you use them 
  • dispose of all rubbish including used tissues and masks. 

Start with higher surfaces and work your way down so that any dust or dirt that falls to the ground is swept up.

Clean surfaces that are less frequently touched first.

Avoid going from a room that is not clean to one that is clean to prevent cross-contamination.

Clothing and bedding

To reduce the possibility of spreading the virus through the air, do not shake dirty laundry. Wash clothing and bedding according to the manufacturer’s instructions – use warm water and dry them completely. 

General cleaning and disinfection advice | health.govt.nz (external link)

What to do with your household waste

You 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. That bag can then go into a general household waste bag. Check your local council website for further guidance on disposal options in your area. 

Get vaccinated if you are not already

Once you have recovered and if you have not been vaccinated, it is recommended you still get vaccinated. It is best to wait at least 4 weeks after you recover.

How to get a COVID-19 vaccination

Keep up healthy habits

Even if you have had COVID-19 or are vaccinated, you still need to keep up healthy habits. It is rare, especially when you are vaccinated, but it is possible to get COVID-19 again.

Keep up healthy habits

Long COVID

Long COVID describes the symptoms that continue or develop after the initial COVID-19 symptoms. This is usually longer than 4 weeks after a person is first infected.

Most people who get COVID-19 recover completely. But some people report a range of symptoms beyond the standard time of recovery.

For support with management and treatment of Long COVID, seek help from your doctor or healthcare team. 

You can find more information about Long COVID on the Ministry of Health website:

Long COVID | health.govt.nz (external link)

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