Visit NSW Government - Coronavirus (COVID-19) for the latest advice and information for community and businesses, including information about COVID-19 symptoms, testing and physical distancing.
COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV2, a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans. It was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in 2019, where it caused a large and ongoing outbreak. It has been declared a global pandemic. The COVID-19 virus is closely related to a bat coronavirus.
Outbreaks of new coronavirus infections among people are always a public health concern. The situation is continually evolving.
Further information about COVID-19 is available at:
Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
Other reported symptoms of COVID-19 include fatigue, acute blocked nose (congestion), muscle pain, joint pain, headache, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Unexplained chest pain and conjunctivitis have also been reported as symptoms of COVID-19.
In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.
If you have any symptom(s) of COVID-19, even if it is mild, don't delay, please get tested and isolate while you wait for your test results.
While some people don't develop symptoms at all, for people who do develop symptoms these typically appear five to six days after exposure to the virus. However, it is possible that symptoms can appear anytime from between 1 and 14 days after being exposed to the virus.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, like other viruses, is continually undergoing changes in in its genetic structure (genome). Think of the genome as a blueprint that shows a cell how to create more of the virus. Every time someone is infected with a virus there is an opportunity for the virus to change a little. Most of the time, these changes don't make the virus more dangerous, though they can help us to work out where particular cases of the virus originated. However, sometimes the virus can change in ways that make it easier for the virus to spread, or to make people sicker, or both. When this happens, the World Health Organisation uses the name "variants of concern".
Variants of SARS-CoV-2 are identified by looking at the genetic code of the virus ("genome sequencing") and comparing the sequence of genetic material to that of other SARS-CoV-2 viruses.
In NSW many swabs, including those from people in quarantine have their genome sequenced. This allows us to detect new variants of the virus and helps to confirm where the particular strain has come from.
The Delta variant of concern was first identified in October 2020. It causes more infections and spreads faster than early forms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Delta variant is easily transmitted to household members of positive cases and has also been associated with infections in workplace and high-density housing settings such as apartments.
Data suggests that the Delta variant causes more severe illness and increased number of hospitalisations than previous strains of COVID-19 in unvaccinated persons.
Fully vaccinated people can still spread the virus to others. However, vaccinated people appear to be infectious for a shorter period, and have a much lower chance of developing severe illness. The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to contract, and therefore transmit the virus.
The virus can spread from an infected person's mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe heavily. These liquid particles are different sizes, ranging from larger 'respiratory droplets' to smaller 'aerosols'.
Current evidence suggests that the main way the virus spreads is by respiratory droplets among people who are in close contact with each other.
People can catch COVID-19 when the virus gets into their mouth, nose or eyes. This is more likely to happen when people are in direct or close contact (less than 1 metre apart) with an infected person. For this reason, we generally recommend physical distancing of 1.5m and wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible. See up-to-date recommendations on
physical distancing. The virus can also spread after infected people sneeze, cough on, or touch surfaces, or objects, such as tables, doorknobs and handrails. Other people may become infected by touching these contaminated surfaces, then touching their eyes, noses or mouths without having cleaned their hands first.
People may be highly infectious before their symptoms show. Even people with mild or no symptoms can spread COVID-19.
Vaccinated people are less likely to spread COVID-19.
Early research suggests that the length of time that COVID-19 can survive on surfaces may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.
If you think a surface may be contaminated, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose until you have washed or sanitised your hands.
See more information on
how to protect yourself and others.
Yes, COVID-19 can be transmitted both in the air and outdoors.
The SARS-CoV2 virus can be spread from person to person through airborne droplets or aerosols containing the virus. Aerosols are tiny, invisible particles that are expelled when people talk, sing, shout, cough or sneeze. Aerosols can remain in the air for some time and can build up if there is not enough ventilation, for example, if a group of people sing or speak loudly in an indoor space without windows or doors open.
While COVID-19 can spread outdoors, transmission is much more common indoors where there is less space to physically distance and aerosols can stay in the air.
Ocean pools and baths are filled with untreated sea water, which is refreshed naturally by the tides or cleaned by local services.
The risk of contracting COVID-19 through swimming in ocean pools and baths is considered low. The greatest risk is having conversations with fellow bathers or in an indoor change room.
If you are going to a pool or ocean bath, you should:
Evidence to-date suggests that COVID-19 can cause medium to long-term illness in some people.
Most people experience mild symptoms and recover from the virus in under 2 weeks, however if people do develop long-term health impacts, symptoms most commonly persist for 2 to 8 weeks after infection. There have been reports that some people experience symptoms for over 12 weeks. Ongoing illnesses can include:
Less common symptoms could include insomnia, low-grade fevers, headaches, neurocognitive (memory and concentration) difficulties, aching muscles and weakness, gastrointestinal symptoms, rash and depression.
For additional information please see the Release and Recovery from COVID-19 fact sheet.
Those who are at higher risk of serious illness if they become infected include:
The Delta strain of COVID-19 can be contracted by people of all age groups, with more people under 40 years of age admitted to hospital for treatment of serious COVID-19 symptoms compared to other variants.
The Australian Department of Health has more information about
people who are most at risk of serious illness with COVID-19.
A high-risk setting is any place where COVID-19 might spread more easily due to environmental factors, and/or where the effects of an outbreak would be more serious due to health vulnerabilities among residents or patrons.
These include health quarantine facilities and transportation; healthcare and aged care facilities; residential disability care facilities; crowded or high-density housing; prisons; boarding schools; homeless shelters and residential/crisis hostels; Aboriginal communities, particularly in rural and remote areas; and food processing, distribution and cold storage facilities, including abattoirs.
The Delta strain of COVID-19 is also more easily spread in home and workplace settings.
Women infected with the coronavirus can, in very rare cases, pass the disease to their baby. Infants can also become infected shortly after being born. According to the
U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most newborns who test positive for the coronavirus have mild symptoms or none at all, and recover, but serious cases have occurred.
Generally, COVID-19 symptoms in children and babies are milder than those in adults, and some infected children may not have any signs of being sick at all.
Please see guidance for
maternity and newborn care and
schools, universities and childcare (early childhood education centres) for further information.
Guidance for pregnant women and new parents answers a number of frequently asked questions.
Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to prevent COVID-19 impacting you or your baby.
The most common way to be diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection is to do a polymerase chain reaction test, also called a 'PCR test'. The most common way to do this is with a respiratory sample (a swab) from the nose and throat. Sometimes only a sample from the nose or throat is collected. If you need a COVID-19 test and can't go to a testing clinic, refer to
COVID-19 testing at home.
Rapid antigen testing is also available for employers, industries, schools and government agencies. For further information see
Rapid Antigen Testing
On 1 October 2021 the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) made a new regulation that allows companies to formally apply for TGA regulatory approval to legally supply their self-tests for use at home in Australia after 1 November 2021. For further information please go to the
COVID-19 clinics for a list of currently available testing locations.
From November 1 2021 all Australian citizens returning to Sydney will not need to undergo hotel quarantine for 14 days provided they are fully vaccinated and have received a negative COVID-test within 72 hours of arrival. Australian citizens who are not fully vaccinated will be required to go into hotel quarantine for a period of at least 14 days. For further information please visit
NSW Government - Quarantine in NSW – what you need to know.
The NSW Sewage Surveillance Program tests untreated sewage for fragments of the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) virus at more than 60 sewage treatment plants across NSW. This screening provides important data to support NSW Health's COVID-19 response. It can indicate that there is untraced COVID-19 in the community, and prompt the community to be extra vigilant about COVID-19 symptoms and getting tested. However, virus fragments found in sewage cannot tell us which individuals are or have been infected with COVID-19. They also cannot show whether the infection is active or is a past infection.
NSW Health reports the areas in NSW where there have been
COVID-19 virus fragments detected in sewage. If you live in any of these areas you should monitor for
symptoms. If you have even the mildest of symptoms (even if it appears to be a cold),
get tested and
isolate immediately. Symptoms such as a runny nose or scratchy throat, cough, tiredness, fever or other symptoms could be COVID-19. Additional information is available at
Sewage Surveillance Program.
All people aged 12 and over in NSW are strongly urged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves, their families and their community.
For general information about COVID-19 vaccines see
COVID-19 Vaccination in NSW or visit the Australian Government Department of Health.
NSW Healthcare workers are required to have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by
30 November 2021, vaccinated is also mandatory for people who work in aged care facilities, home care community services, also anyone who provides services to people with a disability and education and care workers. For further information see
Public Health Orders.
Some simple measures to significantly reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 and of spreading it include:
More information on
how to protect yourself and others is available.
For the latest information on who can visit your home, please check the
rules and restrictions for your area.
Following these simple tips helps to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19:
See information on
what you can and can't do under the current rules.
There are currently requirements in place for mask use in NSW. For the latest information on when and where you must wear a mask, and what to do if you are unable to wear a mask, please visit
Face mask rules.
NSW Health recommends that anyone with any
COVID-19 symptoms should be tested for COVID-19. You must isolate until you receive a negative result. Follow the
isolation information for people suspected to have COVID-19 infection.
Samples for testing can be taken at your local COVID-19 testing or drive-through clinic, and at a range of private pathology sites across the state, directly by some GPs, , or at public hospitals across NSW.
COVID-19 clinics for locations of NSW Health COVID-19 clinics
If you have COVID-19 symptoms you should get tested and isolate until you receive a negative result, even if you have had a COVID-19 vaccination.
The COVID-19 vaccination will substantially reduce the chance that you develop COVID-19, however no vaccine is completely effective. It takes a few weeks for your body to build up protection from the vaccine. Some people may still get COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated, and may transmit it to other people, including those that haven't been vaccinated. People who have been vaccinated usually develop a less severe illness.
If you have tested because you have
COVID-19 symptoms but you
are not a contact, you should practice good hygiene and self-isolate away from your household members as much as possible until you receive your test result. They are not required to self-isolate while you wait to receive these results.
Different requirements apply for people who share a home with a close contacts and are unable to self-isolate away from each other. Please see the
close contact fact sheet for more information.
If you have an ongoing or seasonal condition that appears or feels like the symptoms of COVID-19 you should pay close attention to any changes in your symptoms. If you experience a change in your symptoms (even if you suspect it's just your first allergy attack of the season), or you are unsure, go and get tested. You may normally take medication to manage your condition, if you find that this medication is not having the usual effect, you should get tested immediately.
If your COVID-19 test result is negative, and you continue to have symptoms or recurrent allergies, talk with your GP about a management plan during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are many testing locations across NSW. Locations of testing facilities are listed at
Make sure you wear a surgical mask while you travel to get tested. You should travel directly to the doctor or COVID-19 clinic by foot, bike (where practical) or private car.
If you need a COVID-19 test and can't go to a testing clinic, refer to
COVID-19 testing at home.
A negative result means that COVID-19 is unlikely to be the cause of someone's current symptoms.
However, a negative test result in someone who is well does not guarantee that they have not been infected, as it may still be early in their illness.
If you are isolating because you have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, a negative test result does not mean you can end your isolation. See the
close contact fact sheet for further information on self-isolation and testing requirements. .
A negative test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing. However, that does not mean you will not get COVID-19 in the future. If you experience symptoms again, such as a fever, cough, sore/scratchy throat, change in taste or smell, stuffy nose or shortness of breath, get tested and self-isolate until you receive a negative result.
NSW Health Pathology automatically delivers COVID-19 test results directly to you via SMS (text message).
If you've been tested for COVID-19 at a NSW Health public hospital fever clinic, COVID-19 clinic or emergency department you can sign up for the secure SMS service. Your local hospital health team will provide you with details on the simple steps to register.
Your sample will go to a specialist NSW Health Pathology COVID-19 laboratory for testing. You will typically receive your results in 24 to 48 hours, but please allow up to 72 hours.
Public healthcare professionals will continue to contact patients who test positive for COVID-19 as a priority.
GPs and a private pathology providers have similar systems for delivery of results. Please check with your GP or pathology provider about how they will provide your COVID-19 results.
For more information, contact
NSW Health Pathology.
You can still get a free COVID-19 test if you don't have Medicare, but please bring your Medicare card with you if you have one.
NSW Health will also waive the costs associated with procedures for ambulance transfers of people suspected to have COVID-19 infection, who are taken to NSW Health facilities for assessment and who are not eligible for Medicare.
If you test positive to COVID-19 and require treatment, NSW Health will also waive these costs. This includes waiving payment and debt recovery procedures for people seeking treatment at NSW Health facilities
Testing is free at public testing clinics, even if you're from overseas. Testing is also free at private testing sites for people with the mildest of symptoms, however a referral is required for some private providers. Where a referral is required, your General Practitioner (GP) may charge a fee for the initial consultation, and then again to receive the result. If you require a COVID-19 test for travel clearance purposes, please visit a private pathology. Please note that charges may apply for COVID-19 testing services for travel. See the full list of
If you are out of your home and develop symptoms that could be COVID-19 (e.g. at work), you should get tested immediately at your closest testing clinic and then self-isolate at home until you receive a negative result. If you are a close contact or casual contact, please immediately identify yourself when you present for testing and follow the relevant public health advice for ongoing self-isolation.
If you are staying away from home when you become symptomatic or become aware that you are a COVID-19 contact, you should get tested immediately at your closest testing clinic and then self-isolate in your temporary accommodation if possible. Please read
further information on testing or if you need to travel home.
Self-isolation means you must stay in your home or accommodation and stay completely separated from others, even if you are fully vaccinated or feel well.
Self-isolation means you cannot:
You are only allowed to leave your home to get a COVID-19 test, for urgent medical care or in an emergency (including to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm from domestic violence). If you leave home for any of these reasons, you must travel by private vehicle, ride or walk. You must wear a face mask, stay 1.5m away from anyone else, travel directly to and from where you need to go and self-isolate in suitable accommodation as soon as possible.
Please see the
Self-Isolation Guideline for further information.
Being a casual contact means that you have been in contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 while they were infectious. As a casual contact, you will have been in the same space as someone infected with COVID-19 for a short period of time.
If you have been identified as a casual contact, follow advice on the
NSW Health fact sheet casual contacts.
A close contact is someone who has been close enough to a person with COVID-19 (a ‘case’) while they were infectious, that they have a reasonable chance of also getting COVID-19. If you are a close contact, you may be notified either by the case, your employer, NSW Health (including by SMS) or by reading the
latest COVID-19 case locations.
testing and self-isolation requirements for close contacts.
If you live with a close contact and they can self-isolate effectively alone, you do not need to self-isolate.
Other people who live with a close contact should minimise contact with them as much as possible during their period. This includes:
If you work in healthcare, aged care, disability or correctional facilities, it is important that you speak to your employer about returning to work.
further information for close contacts.
Information and support is available for you, the people you live with and others who care for you. Please see the
NSW Health fact sheet for people diagnosed with COVID-19 infection and refer anyone you share a home with to the
NSW Health fact sheet for close contacts.
If someone is self-isolating in their home as a COVID-19 case or close contact, tradespeople are only allowed to enter their home to conduct urgent repairs that ensure health, safety of people in the home. This includes repairs and maintenance work on essential utilities such as water, gas, electricity, internet, television and phone services or trades work for fire protection and safety.
Tradespeople entering someone’s home should wear PPE at all times. They must also not have any direct contact with any of the residents in the home, who must be in a separate room from where the work is taking place.
NSW Health provides a range of advice and guidance for health professionals.
Please see the latest advice for schools from the
NSW Education Department.
Information and updates on
current restrictions in your local area, across NSW and for interstate travel is available.
If you're affected by COVID-19 and experiencing financial difficulty, please visit
NSW Government - COVID-19 Support Package for information on what financial support is available.
Support is available by contacting one of the services below for support or talk to your general practitioner.
NSW Health provides a range of advice and guidance for health professionals. Please return to
NSW Health - COVID-19.