How will I be told I have COVID-19?
If you have been tested for COVID-19 and your test is positive, you will be contacted by your medical practitioner or your Public Health Unit.
The Public Health Unit will need to ask you several questions in order to identify where you have been and who you have been with. This will help NSW Health find the likely source of infection and reduce further transmission.
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Do I need to self-isolate and for how long?
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you will need to self-isolate at your residence, or other suitable accommodation, until you are cleared by a authorised medical practitioner. Your Public Health Unit will ask you for an address and a contact phone number of your self-isolation location.
How do I self-isolate?
Do not leave your home, hotel or other accommodation, unless for urgent medical care or in an emergency (including to avoid injury or escape risk of harm from domestic violence). If you leave home for these reasons you must:
- wear a face mask
- stay 1.5 metres away from other people
- travel directly to and from the location back to your home, accommodation or alternative accommodation in the case of an emergency.
- Do not go to work, school, childcare or public areas and do not use public transport or ride share.
- Do not have visitors.
- You can go into your private garden, balcony or courtyard if you have one.
- Practice good hygiene:
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Wash your hands:
- before entering an area where other people may frequent
- before touching things used by other people
- after using the bathroom
- after coughing or sneezing
- before putting on, and after removing, gloves and masks.
Clean all surfaces you touch often (counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables) at least once a day wearing disposable gloves, then apply a household disinfectant or diluted bleach solution.
- Place all used disposable gloves, surgical masks, and other contaminated items in a lined waste bin before disposing of them with other household waste. Wash your hands immediately after handling these items.
- Ask your family or friends to pick up groceries and medicines for you or order online or by telephone. If you still need help with obtaining food and essential supplies, call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.
What if I live with other people?
Your Public Health Unit will discuss your living arrangements and whether you can effectively self-isolate from other people in your household. They will also identify anyone in your household who is at greater risk of illness such as someone who is elderly or immunosuppressed.
If you can’t effectively self-isolate, alternative accommodation for you or your household will be arranged. If you have a child who you can’t self-isolate from, they will need to isolate with you. If you live with people who work in a high-risk setting, refer to the advice for households of people working in a high-risk setting.
If you can effectively self-isolate from the people you live with, at all times you will need to:
- remain separated
- stay and sleep in a different room
- use a separate bathroom, if available (otherwise clean it after every use)
- wear a mask when you are in the same room as another person (even if they are also in isolation)
- do not share household items, including dishes, cups, towels, bedding, or other items – after using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water or use a dishwasher/washing machine
- avoid shared areas and wear a face mask when moving through these areas
- never be in the same room as people who are at risk of severe disease, such as elderly people, immunocompromised people, or those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, or diabetes.
The Public Health Unit will also advise whether the people you live with are close contacts and will need to self-isolate too. All close contacts should refer to the advice for close contacts.
Close contacts must isolate separately to cases.
What if I become symptomatic or my symptoms get worse during
You should monitor yourself for any new symptoms, particularly:
- fever (37.5°C or higher) or history of fever (night sweats, chills)
- runny or blocked nose
- change in taste or smell
- shortness of breath (difficulty breathing).
Talk to the clinical team monitoring you if you feel you need to treat those symptoms.
If your symptoms become serious (for example, shortness of breath at rest or difficulty breathing), you should call Triple Zero 000. Tell the ambulance staff you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
How do I cope with self-isolation?
Talk to the other members of your family about COVID-19 to reduce anxiety. You can find accurate, up to date information at COVID-19 – Frequently asked questions.
- Reassure young children using age-appropriate language.
- Keep up a normal daily routine at home as much as possible.
- Keep in touch with family members and friends via phone, email or social media.
- Exercise regularly at home. Options could include exercise DVDs, dancing, floor exercises, yoga, walking around the backyard or using home exercise equipment, such as a stationary bicycle if you have one. Exercise is a proven treatment for stress and depression.
- Arrange with your employer to work from home, if possible.
Think about how you have coped with difficult situations in the past and reassure yourself that you will cope with this situation too. Remember that self-isolation won’t last for long.
What if I’m notified as a confirmed case and I’m away from home?
If you have been notified as a confirmed case while away from home and you cannot stay in your accommodation for the self-isolation period, your Public Health Unit can assist in finding alternative accommodation.
You are not permitted to travel home until you are cleared by a authorised medical practitioner.
When can I leave self-isolation?
You can leave self-isolation once you have been medically assessed as non-infectious and an authorised medical practitioner confirms:
- at least 14 days have passed since onset of symptoms and you have a negative COVID-19 test result, and
- there have been no fever and respiratory symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours.
If you never reported any symptoms you may be released from isolation if:
- at least 14 days have passed since the first COVID-19 test was positive
- no symptoms have developed during the last 14 days, and
- you have negative COVID-19 test
If you do not have complete resolution of fever and respiratory symptoms you can be released from isolation if:
- at least 20 days have passed since the onset of symptoms, and
- the case is not significantly compromised,
You can also be released from isolation if you meet all the following criteria:
- at least 14 days have passed since the onset of symptoms;
- there has been resolution of fever for the previous 72 hours;
- there has been substantial improvement in respiratory symptoms of the acute illness; and
- you have had two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests taken at least 24 hours apart after day 10 from symptom onset
People who are significantly immunocompromised may be released from isolation if:
- at least 14 days have passed since the first COVID-19 test was positive
- you have had two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests taken at least 24 hours apart after day 7 from symptom onset
Other criteria will apply if your results from this test are not negative which may require an additional test, including a blood test.
What happens if I don’t follow self-isolation rules?
Not following these guidelines puts family, friends and the community at risk.
Not following these rules is also a criminal offence and attracts heavy penalties. For individuals, the maximum penalty is $11,000, 6 months in prison, or both with a further $5,500 fine for each day the offence continues.
What happens after I leave self-isolation?
You can return to daily activities including taking public transport, going to work and seeing friends and family.
You should continue to practice good hygiene and physical distancing to reduce the spread of all contagious diseases:
- Stay 1.5 metres away from people you don’t live with.
- Wash your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes and mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing.
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms at any point after your isolation period, get tested immediately.
Still have questions or need support while in isolation?
If you're affected by COVID-19 and experiencing financial difficulty, please visit the NSW Government website for information on what financial support is available.
For more information and support: