What to do if you test positive to COVID-19 – Five simple steps

Last Updated: 21 Oct 2022 10:18am

Look after your health

If you test positive for COVID-19 it is important to look after your health and get help if needed.

Contact your usual General Practitioner (GP) or health care provider if you test positive to COVID-19. If you don’t have a regular GP, call the COVID@homeplus care team on 1800 973 363. See Understand your symptoms for more information.

If your symptoms get seriously worse, especially if it happens very suddenly, or you feel like it’s an emergency, call triple zero (000) or go straight to hospital. Make sure you tell them you have COVID-19.

If your symptoms are worsening but are not serious, contact your GP or healthcare provider in the first instance, or call the COVID@homeplus team on 1800 973 363. Other community partners like your local pharmacy are also available to provide extra support, such as through telehealth and home deliveries.

Some people are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. These people are eligible for antiviral medication, or simply ‘antivirals.’ Find out more about COVID-19 treatments.

If you are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, it is important you seek antiviral treatment as soon as possible to ensure it is most effective in treating your illness. Have a plan in place before you become unwell and to access antiviral treatment, contact your GP or usual health care provider in the first instance, or call the COVID@homeplus team.

If you can, you should also tell a support person who can check up on you while you are unwell, by phone or online.

If you are not getting better, or you are concerned, contact your GP or healthcare provider in the first instance, or phone the COVID@homeplus team on 1800 973 363.

Your GP or healthcare provider can provide further support, help you manage your symptoms, and assess whether you need further clinical care.


Minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others

If you have COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses you can spread that virus to others. The behaviours we have learnt from COVID-19 will continue to protect everyone from the spread of these infections.

If you test positive for COVID 19 you may be infectious for up to 10 days, but you are most infectious just before your symptoms start, and while you have acute symptoms (runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever)

To reduce the risk to others it is recommended that you:

  • Stay home until your acute symptoms have resolved.
  • If you must leave the house, wear a mask when indoors and on public transport.
  • Avoid large gatherings and indoor crowded places for at least seven days.
  • Don’t visit people at high risk of severe illness, anyone in hospital, or an aged or disability care facility for at least seven days.

Register your positive RAT result

If you have tested positive on a RAT, notify Public Health by completing the online declaration form or calling the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

You may complete the form or phone with details for yourself or on behalf of another person, however, you should do this immediately. Positive RAT results cannot be registered after 10 days.

Registration can help you:

  • access health services and other support
  • inform your GP, as they will be made aware of your diagnosis
  • receive information from Public Health on the best way to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others

It also provides Public Health with ongoing information to assess the ongoing risk of COVID-19 in the community.

If you have a positive PCR test result, you do not need to report a positive RAT result.


Let your workplace know

Workers should advise their workplace of a positive result. Many places may have policies in place and  ask you to work from home even if you don’t have symptoms or wear a mask when in the workplace.

Workers at high-risk residential premises (hospitals, aged and disability facilities) or those providing in-home care aged or disability services may not be able to attend work for seven days after you test positive. You may be required wear a mask for up to 10 days when you do return to work. Check your workplace policy.

Workplaces may also have additional requirements in place for people returning to work after having COVID-19, which you will need to follow.


Let your close contacts know

Tell your close contacts that you have COVID-19 or another respiratory infection as they are at increased risk of getting COVID-19.

Close contacts are those people that live with you or spend a lot of time indoors with a person diagnosed with COVID-19. They are at higher risk of catching COVID-19 from you and then passing the virus on to others.

Public Health recommends close contacts take some simple steps to help reduce the risk to others especially those at risk of severe illness. Find out more about the simple steps close contacts can take here.

A close contact may be:

  • anyone who has stayed overnight in the same premises as a case during their infectious period, or
  • anyone who has spent more than four hours (over a 24-hour period) in a residential setting with a case during their infectious period.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 in the last four weeks are not considered to be close contacts and do not need to follow these additional precautions.

Tips for telling your close contacts:

  • Let them know first, before any other contacts, as they are at the highest risk of becoming a COVID-19 case
  • Tell them where they can find more information about the advice for close contacts – see Close Contacts

Re-exposure to COVID-19

Within five weeks of testing positive to COVID-19

If you become a close contact of a confirmed case within five weeks of testing positive for COVID-19, you will not be considered a close contact.

After five weeks

If you become a close contact of a confirmed case more than five weeks after testing positive , you should follow the simple steps recommended for close contacts.

Testing after having COVID-19

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 less than five weeks after previously testing positive for COVID, you do not need to get tested. You should remain at home until your symptoms are gone, or if you need to leave home wear a face mask.

If you are immunocompromised or at risk of severe disease and you develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any time, you should get tested for COVID-19 with a PCR test and discuss your symptoms with your medical practitioner.