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Last updated: 11 October 2021

If you have tested positive for COVID-19:

  1. Self-isolate in your home immediately
  2. Tell everyone who lives with you that they must self-isolate too
  3. Tell your work manager, place of education, household members, and people you have been in contact with in the 2 days before you got sick (or 2 days before your test if you have no symptoms) that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and ask them to get tested and self-isolate.

Contact your Local Health District clinical team, your doctor, or call Healthdirect (1800 022 222) if you need health advice.  In an emergency call 000, for example if you are having trouble breathing or pain in your chest.

How will I be told I have COVID-19?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by SMS (text message) or phone. Please click on the survey link and help us by answering the questions as soon as you can.

What does COVID-19 feel like?

Common symptoms (the way you feel)

Common symptoms include runny nose, cough, tiredness and fever. These symptoms can be managed with rest and plenty of fluids, similar to a regular cold or flu. If you feel unwell, paracetamol and ibuprofen can be taken to help relieve symptoms.

Most people with COVID-19 will have a mild illness and will recover in a few days or so. Some people have no symptoms at all.

Severe symptoms

While isolating, you should look out for severe or worsening symptoms, particularly:

  • severe headaches or dizziness
  • shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • chest pressure or pain

If you have severe symptoms you should call 000 straight away and tell ambulance staff that you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Have I put others at risk of COVID-19?

People can spread COVID-19 to others before testing positive. People can give another person COVID-19 from two days before developing symptoms, of if you have no symptoms, in the two days before your test. This is known as the start of your infectious period.

What do I need to do?


All confirmed cases of COVID-19 must self-isolate at home for at least 14 days until medically cleared, even if you are fully vaccinated. You are not allowed to leave your home except for urgent medical care or in an emergency (including to avoid injury or escape risk of harm from domestic violence). Please see the Self-Isolation Guideline for further information.

Tell your close contacts, employer and place of education that you have tested positive

Tell your employer, place of education, household members, and people you have spent time with recently that you have tested positive for COVID-19.


Tell everyone who is staying at your house that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and tell them they must get a COVID-19 test and return home to self-isolate immediately. Your whole household are close contacts and must follow the advice in the close contact factsheet as they have been exposed to COVID-19. 

Close Contacts

A close contact is everyone you have spent more than 15 minutes indoors with either:

  • from 2 days before you got sick until the present, or
  • if you had no symptoms, from 2 days before you had your test until the present

Tell them to get a COVID-19 test and isolate for up to 14 days since you last saw them. They are a close contact and should follow the advice in the close contact factsheet. You can tell them by phone or text.

If you do not have their phone number, you can email them.

Employer and/or education facility

Tell your work manager or education facility co-ordinator that you have tested positive for COVID-19.  Tell them:

  • the date of your test;
  • the date that you got sick (if you have symptoms); and
  • the days you were at work or at the education facility since 2 days before you got sick (or 2 days before your test if you have no symptoms).

You can tell your manager by phone or text. If you do not have their phone number you can email them, or you can ask a work friend to tell them for you. If you have attended an educational facility, you can call the main phone number for the campus you attend. If you live in a university or TAFE/college residence, also tell someone in the office of the residence.

Please note that if you are unable to tell your close contacts, employer or place of education that you have tested positive for COVID-19 or you feel it is not safe to do so, please call the NSW Health Isolation Support Line on 1800 943 553 for assistance.

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation means you must stay at your home or accommodation and remain separated from others, even if you are fully vaccinated or feel well. People with COVID-19 or who are close contacts must self-isolate to help stop the spread of COVID-19 to other people.

Self-isolation means you cannot:

  • go to work or school 
  • go to any public places (e.g. shops, parks, beaches)
  • use public transport or ride share
  • have any visitors in your home, unless they are providing healthcare, emergency maintenance or emergency services

You are only allowed to leave your home:

  • to get a COVID-19 test as advised by public health or a clinical team,
  • 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.

If you need to leave your accommodation for one of these reasons and require transport, but do not have a private vehicle, call the NSW Health Isolation Support Line on 1800 943 553 for assistance. 

Where should I self-isolate?

You should spend your self-isolation period at the place you are staying, which may be your home, a hotel, motel or other form of accommodation, as long as you can safely stay there and separate from all other people.

If you are not already at home when you find out that you are required to self-isolate, you must immediately travel by private car directly (without stopping) to your accommodation.

If you are unable to access a private car, or you are staying in temporary accommodation that ends before you will complete your self-isolation period, please call the NSW Health Isolation Support Line on 1800 943 553 for advice and assistance.

You may be told to self-isolate in a different accommodation such as a quarantine facility, hospital or other medical facility by a designated health practitioner or an authorised contact tracer (including an officer in the NSW Department of Education) at any time if they determine you cannot safely isolate at your home.

How can I self-isolate safely within my home?

If you live with other people, you must remain separated from them during your self-isolation period. 

Physically distance

This means:

  • Stay and sleep in a separate room
  • Use a separate bathroom if available, or clean a shared bathroom after use
  • Do not be in the same room as another person (unless they also have COVID-19)
  • Do not share household items including dishes, cups, towels and bedding. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap

Practice good hygiene

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser:
    • Before entering an area where other people may go
    • Before touching things used by other people
    • After using the bathroom
    • After coughing or sneezing
    • Before putting on, and after removing face masks
    • Before eating or drinking
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Regularly clean all surfaces you touch as much as possible (such as tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures) using household disinfectant or diluted bleach solution
  • Wear masks in shared areas or when caring for other members of your household

Take extra care to remain separate from any members of your household who are elderly, immunocompromised or have medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney problems. 

What if I live in an apartment building?

If you have to self-isolate and live in an apartment building, you will need to follow some extra steps to protect other building residents from COVID-19.

  • You must remain inside your own unit. You should not use shared laundry facilities, or any other common areas, such as a gym, pool or shared outdoor area.
  • Wash your clothes inside your own unit. Neighbours or friends should not do your laundry.
  • Ask a neighbour or contact your building manager about collecting your rubbish. Leave the rubbish outside your door, return inside your unit, and close your door. The other person can collect the rubbish and should wear gloves and a surgical mask while doing this, and thoroughly wash their hands afterwards.
  • If you are receiving deliveries including food to your home, please ask that it is left outside your door. Do not open the door to pick up the delivery until the corridor is empty.

What support is available while I am in self-isolation?

Someone from NSW Health will contact you as soon as possible to discuss your health needs and connect you to community health services. Public Health Unit staff may also contact you for additional information. The Police may also visit your house to check that you are OK and to collect information about other people living with you.

If you have a medical condition, such as diabetes, asthma or cardiovascular disease, you should continue taking any medications as usual.

If you are unsure about continuing to take your current medication or treatment, or have any concerns about your health, call your doctor.

Coping with self-isolation

Self-isolating can be difficult for you, your family and everyone living with you. Some strategies to help you cope include:

  • Keep up a daily routine as much as possible
  • Keep in touch with family and friends via telephone, social media or email
  • Exercise at home where possible, spending time in private balconies or backyards or using home exercise equipment, if available
  • Take care of yourself and try to eat healthy foods.

Welfare and clinical support

If you need other practical support or have non-urgent health related questions during isolation call the Isolation Support Line on 1800 943 553.

Food and other essential supplies

Ask your family or friends who do not live with you to help pick up groceries and medicines as needed, or you can order online or by telephone. Ask them to leave the food on your doorstep and wait until they have left before opening the door with a mask on.

If you have no other way of obtaining food or other essentials call the NSW Health Isolation Support Line on 1800 943 553 and you will be directed to Service NSW for assistance.

Mental health and domestic violence support

For mental health support:

  • NSW Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
  • Beyond Blue helpline – 1800 512 348
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Or visit the Services NSW Mental wellbeing resources
  • NSW Health has partnered with Sonder to provide a personal wellbeing service to support you. The app provides access to 24/7 multilingual chat & phone access to a range of mental health, medical and wellbeing support services. You can download the Sonder app for free. You may also receive a text message from Sonder notifying you that you have free access to the app through NSW Health. Downloading the app is optional and Sonder do not retain or use your data for any other purpose than notifying you of this service.

For domestic violence support:

  • National sexual assault and domestic violence helpline – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800

When can I leave self-isolation?

You can leave self-isolation when you are "medically cleared". A medical practitioner or registered nurse will contact you at the end of your isolation period to confirm if you can be released and provide you with a medical clearance notice. Please refer to the release and recovery fact sheet for further advice.

Current as at: Monday 11 October 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW