What to expect when self-isolating at home

Most people with COVID-19 are likely to have a mild to moderate illness. They will fully recover in their own home. Here is what you need to know about self-isolating at home if you have COVID-19.

What happens after you test positive

If you test positive for COVID-19, your doctor or a health professional will call you to discuss:

  • what it means to have COVID-19 and what you need to do
  • all the people you have had contact with recently
  • if you will move into a quarantine facility or self-isolate at home.

You will need to isolate for at least 14 days while you recover from COVID-19 and be symptom-free for 72 hours.

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. You can self-isolate there instead.

While you are isolating at home, you will have a dedicated contact person check up on you and make sure that you and your whānau are safe.

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

Household contacts

Household members will need to remain in isolation for at least 10 days after the positive case has been released from isolation. This means household members will need to be in isolation for longer than the positive case.

Household contacts are considered Close Contacts.

What Close Contacts need to do

What it means to self-isolate at home

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

You will get instructions and advice directly from a public health official that is specific to your individual situation and your needs.

General advice for self-isolating at home

  • Stay home. Do not go to work, school or public places — even to exercise.
  • Limit contact with others you live with — for example, sleep by yourself 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 share items with others in your household — for example, dishes, toothbrushes, and towels.
  • Do your own laundry.
  • Do not have visitors in your home.
  • 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.

When you can expect health and wellbeing checks

Within the first 24 hours of getting your test result

Your health, welfare and wellbeing needs will be discussed with immediate supports and information provided. This could be with your doctor, a social and wellbeing provider, a kaupapa Māori or Pacific provider, or the public health unit.

Within the first 48 hours of getting your test result

You will get a care pack with advice on looking after yourself and supporting your recovery. It may include a pulse oximeter if you need one.

From 48 hours onwards

How often you receive health and wellbeing checks while you are self-isolating will depend on your symptoms and recovery.

If you have moderate symptoms or are more at risk, you will get a virtual health check, like a phone call, from your health provider every day.

If you are at low risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 infection and only have mild symptoms, you will get a virtual health check every second day.

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

The people who live in your house will need to be tested regularly to check if they have COVID-19. You will get information on when, how and where this needs to happen.

Close Contacts

Days 10 to 14 

You will have a health assessment by a medical practitioner at 10 to 14 days. The timing of this depends on if you are vaccinated.

You will need to be symptom free for the 72 hours before your isolation release date and continue to have no symptoms. If approved by the medical practitioner, you will be able to leave your house the next day.

You do not need to be tested. If you did, the result would likely show as positive but that does not mean you are infectious.

Beyond 10 to 14 days

Anyone you live with will need to stay home for the entire time you and anyone else in your household who tests positive are isolating.

Once the last case has been released from isolation, the rest of your household will have a further 10 days in isolation. This means they will need to isolate for longer than you.

Your health contact will continue to check in on them during this time.

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 had a more severe illness and require hospital care, you will need more time before you can return home and resume your usual activities. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by a health professional.

More information

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.

Care in the Community: Self-isolating timeline [PDF, 90 KB]

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

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

Financial support

Getting support if you have COVID-19 or are self-isolating

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

What to expect after you have had COVID-19

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