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HealthInfo Canterbury

COVID-19 testing

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All people who have COVID-19 symptoms should have a COVID-19 test.

COVID-19 symptoms include a new or worsening cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, head cold symptoms and loss of smell or taste. Possible other symptoms include headache, muscle aches, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, and confusion.

If you aren't sure if you need a test, contact your usual healthcare provider or ring Healthline on 0800-358-5453.

Some people can get a free COVID-19 test even if they don't have symptoms. This includes household contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case and people who need a test to be able to continue at work. You can find the full details of who needs to be tested here.

If you need an overseas travel test, you'll need to book it with your general practice team or an urgent care facility. You'll need to book the test within the timeframe requested by the country you're travelling to and leave enough time for the test result to come back (usually 48 hours). You'll have to pay for the test. Ask your general practice team or urgent care facility for the cost.

Types of COVID-19 test

There are three types of tests being used in New Zealand.

Where to get a test

You can get a free test from a community testing centre, some general practices or by ordering and picking up a RAT test to do at home yourself. This page has the full details of how to do this.

You may choose to buy a testing kit from a pharmacy, other retail outlet or online.

Test results

If you have a PCR test, you'll need to self-isolate until you're notified of the result. This usually comes via a text from 2328 and may take several days.

If you did a RAT test yourself, you'll need to report the result either online or by phoning 0800-222-478 and choosing option 3. This page has details of how to do this.

If you have a positive result, you'll need to self-isolate and follow the advice on this page.

If you have symptoms, continue to self-isolate even if you've had a negative RAT test and repeat the test in 24 hours. If you test negative again and still have symptoms, contact your usual healthcare provider or Healthline on 0800-358-5453 for advice.

If you have no symptoms and a negative test, you're unlikely to have COVID-19.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2022. Last updated September 2022.

See also:

Caring for yourself at home with COVID-19

Page reference: 733604

Review key: HICOV-710714