COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. In some people it causes mild illness, but in others it can cause severe illness and death.
Most people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. These can be managed with your regular pain medication.
|Common symptoms||Less common symptoms||Severe symptoms|
fever or high temperature
|feeling very tired||sore throat||blue lips or face|
|coughing – sometimes with phlegm||mild shortness of breath||pain or pressure in the chest|
|loss of taste and/or smell||muscle or joint pains||cold and clammy, or pale and mottled, skin|
|runny nose||fainting or collapsing|
|nausea/vomiting||becoming difficult to wake up|
|diarrhoea||little or no urine output|
If you have any of the severe symptoms above, call 000 immediately. Tell the phone operator that you have COVID-19 with severe symptoms, and that you need an ambulance to be sent to you.
If you don’t speak English ask for ‘ambulance’ and stay on the line to request an interpreter.
If you still have symptoms of COVID-19 more than 6 weeks after you tested positive, talk to your health care provider.
How to protect yourself and others
Everyone can play a part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. To protect others and stay yourself, you should:
- practise good hygiene
- practise physical distancing and staying 1.5 metres away from others
- wear a mask
- get tested and if you are positive it is recommended you stay home.
The best way to protect yourself, your family and your community from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.
People who are at higher risk
Some people may get very sick if they get COVID-19. People at higher risk could include:
- older people
- people who already have health issues
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- people with disability.
If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, even if mild, you should get tested as soon as possible. Finding COVID-19 early means you can help stop the spread of the virus to your friends, family and your community.
There are 2 types of tests that can show if you have COVID-19:
- polymerase chain reaction (only available at walk-in or drive-through COVID-19 testing clinics)
- rapid antigen tests (commonly referred to as a RAT).
You can buy rapid antigen tests online, and from some supermarkets, retail outlets and petrol stations for private use.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you can get a free test at a walk-in or drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic.
Free rapid antigen tests for concession card holders
You can access free rapid antigen tests if you have one of these Commonwealth concession cards:
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
- Department of Veteran's Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
- Health Care Card
- Low Income Health Card
- Pensioner Concession Card.
You can access up to 10 rapid antigen tests over 3 months (a maximum of 5 over 1 month) through participating community pharmacies.
When to get tested
You should get a COVID-19 test if you:
- have COVID-19 symptoms
- are a close contact of someone who has tested positive
- have been advised to do so by a health professional, or your local state or territory health department
- go to school or work where there is a COVID-19 surveillance program in place.
If you believe you may be a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, visit your state or territory health department website for further advice.
After your test
Once you get tested, you should stay at home if you have symptoms to reduce the risk of infecting others.
Learn more about getting tested for COVID-19.
What to do if you test positive
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay at home until your symptoms resolve.
If you were tested at a walk-in or drive through testing clinic, your local health department will contact you.
If you took a rapid antigen test at home, tell your local health authority so they can keep track of who might need help. Follow your local health advice to register as a COVID-19 positive case.
For more advice on what to do if you test positive for COVID-19 visit your state or territory health department website.
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- North Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
If you have had COVID-19 and have recovered, you should still get your next COVID-19 vaccine stay up to date.
It is recommended that people who have recovered from COVID-19 get their next vaccine dose 3 months after infection.
Most cases of COVID-19 can be managed at home - especially in vaccinated people. Read more about what to expect:
Breastfeeding if you have COVID-19
If you are feeling well enough, you can continue to breastfeed. Antibodies will be passed from you to your baby.
If you are worried, or have questions, you can call the Breastfeeding Helpline. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you need an interpreter, call the Translating and Interpreting Service 131 450 and ask them to telephone the Breastfeeding Helpline.
If your child has COVID-19
Having your child diagnosed with COVID-19 can be very stressful for you and your family. It is rare for children to become severely sick with COVID-19. Most children will have no symptoms, or only mild symptoms.
If you are worried about your child’s symptoms contact your doctor as soon as possible.
If your child is showing severe symptoms, call 000 immediately. If you don't speak English, ask for 'ambulance' and stay on the line to ask for an interpreter.
COVID-19 oral treatments
COVID-19 oral treatments are an option for treating mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults. These are medicines that are taken as tablets or capsules.
COVID-19 oral treatments are not suitable for everyone. You can only get them if you have a doctor's prescription.
Find out more about treatments for COVID-19.
Where to get help
The National Coronavirus Helpline provides information and advice about what to do if you have tested positive for COVID-19. The line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you need an interpreter call the National Coronavirus Helpline, and choose option 8.
Financial support may be available. Visit Services Australia and click ‘Translate’ to find information in your language.
Physical and mental health support
If you have a Medicare card you may be able to access telehealth services via phone or video.
If you are experiencing severe mental health issues from COVID-19, you can access extra mental health sessions.
To make a telehealth appointment or access mental health sessions call your health care provider.
If you need help now
If you need help now there are a range of mental health services you can call:
If you do not feel safe at home due to domestic violence contact the police in your state or territory or call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
TIS National can connect you to these services if you need a translator.
View more translated COVID-19 information.