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HealthInfo Canterbury

Self-isolation after COVID-19 testing

We're still testing people with COVID-19 symptoms in the community so we can be sure the virus isn't spreading.

Most people being tested for COVID-19 in New Zealand now have a low risk of getting a positive test result. Even if you have symptoms, if you haven't been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, you're considered to have a low risk of having it.

If you have a low risk of having COVID-19, you no longer need to self-isolate after having a test.

But you do have symptoms of an infectious virus so you should stay off work or school. You should also avoid public places until your main symptoms of the virus have been gone for at least 24 hours. If you have to go out in public, you may want to consider wearing a mask. You should use good hand hygiene and cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.

Some people with symptoms have a higher risk of having COVID-19. This includes people who in the 14 days before their illness started:

The health professional taking your test will talk to you about your risk.

If you have high risk of having COVID-19, you must go straight home and stay in self-isolation until you get your result. For information on self-isolation, see the link below. If you haven't been isolating from other members of your household, they should also self-isolate until you receive your result.

Getting your result

You'll be contacted with your test result as soon as possible. It can take more than 24 hours to get your result.

If you haven’t had your result after 72 hours, please contact the healthcare provider where your testing was done. If you were tested at one of our community-based assessment centres (CBAC), contact your GP. If you don't have a GP, contact the healthcare provider who referred you to the CBAC.

Self-isolation for people with a high risk of having COVID-19

Self-isolate until you've received your test result. If your result is:

Positive, carry on self-isolating. Community & Public Health will be told of your result and will contact you with further advice.


Healthcare workers who've been in close contact with a person with confirmed or probable COVID-19 need to have a negative test on day 12 to 13 of their quarantine period before they can return to work.

Household and close contacts of the person being tested

If the person in your household being tested has a low risk of having COVID-19, you can continue with your normal activities.

If the person in your household being tested has a high risk of having COVID-19, you should stay at home until they receive their result.

If their result is:

Positive, continue to self-isolate. Community & Public Health will contact you and your whānau/family with more information.

Negative, you can return to your normal activities unless Community & Public Health tells you otherwise. If you develop symptoms, you should stay at home and contact your GP or Healthline on 0800-358-5453 to arrange to be tested.

Close contacts

A close contact is anyone who has had the following exposure (without personal protective equipment) to someone who might have COVID-19 when they had symptoms:

Casual contacts

Contacts that don't meet the close contacts criteria above.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created April 2020. Last updated June 2020.

See also:

Caring for yourself at home with COVID-19

Page reference: 733604

Review key: HICOV-710714