Managing your COVID-19 symptoms at home

Last Updated: 23 Feb 2022 2:48pm

Most people who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations who have COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms and be able to recover at home.

If you have tested positive to COVID-19 you will need to isolate at home or in private accommodation for a minimum of 7 days. See isolation for more information on how to isolate at home.

See the 7-step checklist on what to do if you test positive to COVID-19.

You will receive an SMS within 24 hours after registering your positive RAT test result or receiving notification of a positive PCR result.

This SMS will contain a survey. Your response will help Public Health understand the level of care you might need based on your personal preference and circumstances, and by how well or unwell you feel.

The survey will also ask if you would like to be enrolled in the COVID@home program.

Enrolling in the COVID@home program is optional. However, the COVID@home team is available to everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 for advice and support. Anyone who has COVID-19 can call the COVID@home team 24 hours a day seven days a week on 1800 973 363.

Understand your symptoms

As with any illness, even if you’re feeling well or only slightly unwell, it’s important to monitor your symptoms and understand when you might need to get help.

It is very important to monitor symptoms when you or someone you care for gets COVID-19, particularly if you feel they are getting worse.

Mild to moderate symptoms

You can usually safely stay at home if you or the person you are caring for has any of these symptoms:

Adults (16 years of age and over)

  • Fever
  • feeling more tired than usual
  • dry cough
  • loss of appetite or nausea
  • runny or blocked nose
  • sore throat
  • loss of or change in taste and smell
  • aches and pains
  • headache

Children (15 years of age and under)

  • Fever
  • feeling more tired than usual
  • dry cough
  • loss of appetite or nausea
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • loss of or change in taste and smell
  • irritability

Someone with mild symptoms should be able to speak in full sentences and move around the house to do normal activities without becoming breathless.

If you or someone you are caring for is experiencing mild symptoms you/they are unlikely to need medical attention. You should monitor these symptoms and:

  • rest
  • drink plenty of water (aim to drink 2 to 2.5 litres a day)
  • eat healthy food
  • take medicines - as discussed with your doctor or pharmacist, or medicines that you usually already take.

Worsening symptoms

Contact your GP or the COVID@home care team on 1800 973 363 if you or the person you are caring for develops any of the following symptoms:

Adults (16 years of age and over)

  • mild shortness of breath, or coughing, when moving around
  • severe muscle aches and pains
  • little or no urination
  • vomiting or diarrhoea

Children (15 years of age and under)

  • headache
  • vomiting, diarrhoea
  • poor or no appetite; reduced intake of food or fluids
  • mild breathing difficulties

If you feel that the symptoms are getting worse, something is wrong, and you are concerned the ill person is getting much worse call your GP or the COVID@home team.

Serious symptoms

Some symptoms are serious and should not be ignored. When severe symptoms occur in COVID-19 patients their health can deteriorate rapidly.

If symptoms worsen (especially if they get worse quickly), or the following symptoms develop, go straight to hospital or call triple zero (000). You must let the operator know you have COVID-19 so the paramedics know how to treat you safely.

Adults (16 years of age and over)

  • central or crushing chest pain
  • unconsciousness or a seizure (fit)
  • severe difficulty breathing or turning blue
  • severe bleeding or inability to control bleeding with pressure
  • slurred or sudden inability to move or speak, or sudden facial drooping
  • or, a severe accident

Children (15 years of age and under)

  • working hard to breathe e.g., lots of effort with fast breathing or long pauses between breaths
  • very sleepy e.g., difficult to wake or confused
  • very dehydrated e.g., less wet nappies or going to the toilet less than usual, or extremely thirsty
  • severe chest or abdominal pain that does not go away after pain relief
  • persistent dizziness or headache
  • persistent fever that lasts more than five days, or a fever in a baby under 3 months old
  • pain or swelling in the legs.