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If you have COVID-19 or are a close contact

Find out what to do if you test positive for COVID-19, what symptoms you can expect, and how to look after yourself and the people around you.

Testing positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 you must immediately isolate.

Call the National Coronavirus Helpline for information about how to look after yourself when you are sick with COVID-19.

1800 020 080

  You can find translated information about testing positive for COVID-19 in over 60 languages.

State and territory health authorities have information, resources and links for more support for people with COVID-19, including when you can leave isolation:

Close contacts

You are a close contact if you:

  • live in the same house as someone who tests positive
  • spent 4 hours or longer with someone in a home, or health or aged care environment
  • are determined as one by your state or territory health department.

Different states and territories have different requirements for close contacts of people with COVID-19. If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, visit your state or territory health department website to see what rules apply to you.

If you have symptoms you should visit your nearest testing clinic as soon as possible.

If you have no symptoms you should take a rapid antigen test at home.

Isolating if you have COVID-19

It is an Australian public health requirement that anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 must isolate. If you have the virus, you can pass it on to others. Isolating protects the people around you and the broader community from COVID-19.

Isolation means:

  • staying at home – do not attend work or school, visit public areas, or travel on public transport, in taxis or ride-share services. If you have an appointment you cannot miss – such as a visit to a doctor, family violence service or police – you must tell them that you have COVID-19.

If you do not feel safe at home, contact the domestic violence crisis service or police in your state or territory:

Call 1800 RESPECT

You should stay separated from other people in your house. Stay in a separate, well-ventilated room away from other people.

If you cannot isolate in a separate room you should:

  • avoid shared spaces in the house as much as possible
  • wear a mask when moving through shared areas
  • wipe down any surfaces you touch COVID positive 
  • if you can, use a separate bathroom that others do not use. If you share a bathroom, wipe down any surface you touch and flush the toilet with a closed lid
  • do not let visitors enter your home, unless they are providing necessary medical or personal care, or emergency services
  • have all groceries and other essential items delivered to your home.

The people who usually live in your house with you can stay there if they are unable to live somewhere else during this time. If they stay, they are contacts and need to isolate too.

If you have a household contact who has a weak immune system, is elderly or has another risk for severe COVID-19, contact your state/territory health department to see if they can help with finding them places to stay.

Ensure you share this information with the members of your household.

Living with COVID-19 – COVID-19 ready kit

This checklist can help you make a plan so if you, or someone in your household, tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to isolate you are prepared.

Breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding, you should continue to breastfeed or express breastmilk if you are feeling well. Research shows that mothers who have had COVID-19 pass antibodies to their infant via breastmilk.

Visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association for more information about breastfeeding and COVID-19.

Managing symptoms

Most people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all (asymptomatic). These can be managed with over-the-counter medication. Find out more about managing COVID-19 at home.

Try to get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and eat well. You can still do moderate exercise if you feel well enough, within your home and/or garden if you have one.

Seek urgent medical attention if develop severe symptoms such as:

  • difficulty breathing
  • an oxygen level of less than 92% when tested with a pulse oximeter
  • blue lips or face
  • pain or pressure in the chest
  • cold and clammy, or pale and mottled, skin
  • fainting or collapsing
  • being confused
  • becoming difficult to wake up
  • little or no urine output
  • coughing up blood.

Call 000

If you are unsure if your symptoms are severe use the HealthDirect COVID-19 symptom checker.

Medical care while you are positive

Your state and territory health authority will connect you with a GP, nurse or other health care provider to support you while you are sick. 

The GP or nurse will work with you to monitor your symptoms for as long as you are sick. You may need to monitor your temperature, oxygen levels and heart rate. 

The GP or nurse can also advise you of any other medicines that might be needed to manage your symptoms, like paracetamol or ibuprofen. Oral rehydration solution can be used to help keep you well hydrated, especially if you have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. 

Medicines to treat COVID-19

While there is no cure for COVID-19, there are several medicines that are proving to be effective treatments for people with COVID-19.

You cannot buy these treatments yourself, they must be prescribed by a health care professional.

Mental health and wellbeing

Being in isolation can be stressful. It can be even more difficult for people with pre-existing mental health issues or past experiences of trauma or detention.

Let your GP or nurse know about any mental health issues that you have had in the past and any new concerns.

There are a range of mental health support services you can access.

If your child has COVID-19

Having your child diagnosed with COVID-19 can be very stressful for you and your family. Severe COVID-19 in children is rare, most children will have no, or only mild symptoms.

A GP or nurse will treat your child based on your child’s age, symptoms and past medical history.

Try to keep your child isolated from other family members where practical.

If you are worried about your child’s symptoms contact your GP as soon as possible. If they are showing severe symptoms, call 000 immediately.

Learn more about caring for a child, family member or housemate with COVID-19.

Caring for yourself after COVID-19

You can only leave isolation after 7 days, if your symptoms have cleared up.

Make time to follow-up with your doctor after you leave isolation.

Most people who test positive for COVID-19 recover completely, but some people may develop long COVID.

Talk to your GP if you are experiencing ongoing mental health issues such as:

  • trouble thinking clearly, focusing, or remembering
  • depression, anxiety or other mental health problems.

Vaccination and boosters

Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 reduces your risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and death.

If you are not vaccinated against COVID-19, or are eligible for your booster dose, you should make an appointment using the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder once you no longer have symptoms.

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.

1800 020 080

  Multilingual callers can press option 8 for free interpreting assistance.

Last updated: 
20 May 2022

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