Getting tested

Should I get tested for COVID-19?

You can get tested for COVID-19 in the ACT if you have the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 38 degrees or greater (or recent history of fever such as chills or night sweats); or
  • Respiratory infection (such as shortness of breath, cough, or sore throat).

In addition, people who have sudden onset of loss of smell, loss of taste, runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite may be eligible for COVID-19 testing, after assessment by a health professional.

If you develop any of these symptoms, please call your GP or visit a Respiratory Assessment Clinic.

Note: All people who are tested should self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.

When travelling to and from your home for testing, do not attend any public places, such as shops or cafes/restaurants, on the way. If possible, you should travel using a private mode of transport, such as a private car, to minimise exposure to others.

If public transport, rideshare or taxi is your only travel option, you should wear a mask (if you have one), avoid direct contact with other people (including other passengers, drivers and transport staff), cough/sneeze into your elbow, and wash your hands before and after you travel.

If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain or very high fever, call triple zero (000).

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you are concerned that you have symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important that you take steps to reduce the risk of transmission and seek medical attention. Take the following steps:

  • Limit your exposure to other people by self-isolating at home.
  • Call your GP and let them know you’re worried you may have COVID-19. Calling ahead will allow your GP to provide advice and plan for your visit or arrange a telehealth consultation. You should not visit your GP without calling ahead. Testing will be arranged by your GP if they determine it is necessary.
  • If you can’t contact your GP or if you don’t have a regular GP, you can visit a Respiratory Assessment Clinic.
  • When travelling to the GP or Respiratory Assessment Clinic, do not attend any public places, such as shops or cafes/restaurants, on the way. If possible, you should travel using a private mode of transport, such as a private car, to minimise exposure to others.
  • If using public transport is your only option, you should wear a mask (if you have one), avoid direct contact with other people (including other passengers, drivers and transport staff), cough/sneeze into your elbow, and wash your hands before and after you travel.
  • You do not need to visit the Emergency Department unless you have severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain or very high fever. If you have serious symptoms, call triple zero (000). Let them know you’re worried you may have COVID-19.

Respiratory Assessment Clinics in the ACT are located at:

No appointment required:

  • The Weston Creek Walk-in Centre (24 Parkinson St, Weston). Open 7:30 am - 10:00 pm daily, including public holidays. Please ensure you use a mask and hand sanitiser available at the front door.
  • The Drive Through Respiratory Assessment Clinic at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC, Flemington Rd & Northbourne Ave, Mitchell). Open 9:30 am - 6:00 pm daily (last car accepted at 5pm), including public holidays. You must be driving or a passenger in a registered motor vehicle or motorbike to attend this clinic. It cannot be accessed from public transport or on foot.
  • Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health & Community Services (63 Boolimba Crescent, Narrabundah). Open 9:30am - 4:30pm Monday to Friday. The Winnunga Nimmityjah Respiratory Clinic provides a culturally appropriate assessment and testing centre for First Nations people and existing clients of Winnunga. Before visiting, we suggest you call ahead on (02) 6284 6222 to let them know you think you may have COVID-19.

By appointment:

  • YourGP@Crace (1/5 Baratta Street, Crace). Open 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm Monday to Friday. Please call (02) 6109 0000 to book an appointment or book online.
  • Lakeview Medical Practice Tuggeranong (1/216 Cowlishaw Street, Greenway). Open 9:00 am - 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm Monday to Friday. Please call (02) 6185 1986 to book an appointment.

Please note: Children under the age of six years can be tested at the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre, or by their local GP. Children under two years can only be seen at the Weston Walk-in centre when a GP is rostered on shift – please call (02) 5124 8080.

Anyone with serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain or severe fever should call triple zero (000).

Why have you expanded testing?

The number of people who met the previous testing criteria dropped significantly due to physical distancing measures and reduced international and domestic travel.

In addition, there is now much greater testing capacity within ACT laboratories.

This means that we are able to further increase our efforts in looking for COVID-19 cases within the community. Early detection of cases allows us to contain potential spread and keep the community safe.

I’m being tested. What next?

Your doctor or other healthcare professional who has organised your COVID-19 test will advise whether you are well enough to return home while you are waiting for your test results, or whether you are sick enough to be hospitalised.

If you are well enough to return home, you need to self-isolate at home until your test result is available. It may take a few days for the test results to come back.

What does it mean to self-isolate?

You need to:

  • Return home without attending any public places, such as shops or cafes, on the way. If possible, travel home using a private mode of transport, such as a car. If using public transport, rideshare or taxis is your only options, you should wear a mask (if you have one), avoid direct contact with other people (including other passengers, drivers and transport staff), cough/sneeze into your elbow, and wash your hands before and after you travel.
  • Remain in your home and do not attend work, school, or any public places, such as shops or cafes or restaurants. Do not have visitors to your home.
  • Practise good hygiene : wash your hands often with soap and water and cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  • Avoid caring for other members of your household.
  • Wear a mask if you have symptoms and close contact with other people in your home is unavoidable.
  • If your symptoms become worse while waiting for your test result, contact your GP for advice. If you have severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, or very high fever, you should attend an Emergency Department or call triple zero (000). Let the ambulance or Emergency Department know ahead of time that you have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting your test result.

You can find more information on our Isolation information page .

How long do COVID-19 test results take?

If the swab result is positive for COVID-19, you will usually receive the result within 1–2 days.

If the swab result is negative you will usually receive the result in 2–4 days. Depending on where you were tested, negative results may be sent to you by text message, or you may receive a phone call from your doctor.

If you have not received your results in the above timeframes, we suggest that you contact the GP who ordered your test or the Respiratory Assessment Clinic who collected the swab. If you were tested at the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre or the EPIC drive through testing clinic, you can contact (02) 5124 5574. This number is staffed Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

Who will provide me with my COVID-19 test results?

If your test result is negative, the GP who requested the test, or the Respiratory Assessment Clinic who collected the swab, will notify you of your test result. The result may be sent to you by text message, or you may receive a phone call from your doctor.

If your test result is positive, the Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Section of ACT Health will contact you and give you advice about what you need to do.

If you have not received your results within 4 days, we suggest that you contact the GP who ordered your test or the Respiratory Assessment Clinic who collected the swab. If you were tested at the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre or the EPIC drive through centre, you can contact (02) 5124 5574. This number is staffed Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

What happens if my test is negative?

If your test is negative, and you were already in quarantine prior to being tested (that is, because you recently returned from overseas, or because you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case), you are still required to complete your 14 day period of quarantine. You should continue to carefully monitor your health. If you develop new or worsening symptoms, you should contact your GP or visit a Respiratory Assessment Clinic. You may need to be tested again.

If your test is negative, and you were not in quarantine prior to being tested, you can return to your usual activities after your symptoms have resolved. You must still practise good hygiene, adhere to physical distancing, and follow the restrictions on groups and gatherings.

What happens if my test is positive?

If your test is positive for COVID-19, the ACT Communicable Disease Control (CDC) team will contact you to provide advice and to identify people you may have had contact with while you were infectious. CDC, along with your treating medical team, will determine whether you need to be managed in hospital or whether you can be safely managed at home.

CDC will call your contacts and provide them with advice, including what they need to do if they develop symptoms.

If the CDC and your treating medical team determine that you can safely be managed at home, you must remain in self-isolation at home until you are advised that it’s safe to return to normal activities. CDC will be in contact with you regularly while you are in self-isolation.

Please see ACT Health’s isolation information for more details on what it means to be isolated at home.

If your symptoms get worse while you are in isolation, or if you have other concerns about your health, you should contact your regular GP to request a telehealth consultation. Do not visit your GP in person while you are in isolation.

If you don’t have a regular GP or can’t get an appointment with your GP, you can contact the Weston Creek Respiratory Assessment Clinic (RAC) for advice about your symptoms. This service is available for all patients who have confirmed COVID-19. The contact number will be provided by CDC when you are first confirmed to have COVID-19. You can call the Weston Creek RAC between 7:30am and 10pm, 7 days a week, including public holidays. You will be able to talk with a health care worker over the phone who will advise you on what to do next.

You can also contact the ACT COVID-19 Helpline on (02) 6207 7244 (between 8am and 8pm daily) or the national COVID-19 hotline on 1800 022 222 (24 hours, 7 days a week).

If you have difficulty breathing or are seriously unwell and it is an emergency, call triple zero (000) immediately. Alert ambulance staff to your COVID-19 diagnosis.

I’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19

The Communicable Disease Control (CDC) team will identify close contacts of COVID-19 cases. If you are a close contact of a confirmed case, you will need to quarantine at home until 14 days after your last contact with the confirmed case. The CDC will contact you each day for 14 days after your last exposure with the infectious person to check on your health.

What is a close contact and what do close contacts need to do?

A close contact is:

  • someone who has been face to face with someone who has COVID-19, while that person was infectious, for more than 15 minutes cumulative over the course of a week, or
  • someone who has been in the same closed space with someone who has COVID-19, while that person was infectious, for more than 2 hours.

Some people may meet the definition of a close contact in other circumstances; these can be found here.

If you think you are a close contact and you haven’t been called by the Communicable Disease Control (CDC) team, you can contact CDC on (02) 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours.

If you are a close contact of a confirmed case, you will need to quarantine at home until 14 days after your last contact with the confirmed case. The CDC will contact you each day for 14 days after your last exposure with the infectious person to check on your health.

Quarantining at home for people who’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19

If you are a close contact of a confirmed case and are quarantined at home, you cannot go to work, school, or public areas, such as shops, cafes or restaurants. You should not have visitors to your home. Remember to practice good hand and general hygiene as this is the best defence against the spread of the virus.

You can find more information on our Quarantine information page.

Monitor your health closely if you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19

Monitor your health for 14 days after you were last exposed to the infectious person. Watch for these key signs and symptoms:

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath

Less common symptoms are loss of smell, loss of taste, runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite.

If you develop symptoms:

  • Keep yourself apart from other people as much as possible, for example put yourself in a different room.
  • Wear a mask, if you have one, over your nose and mouth if other people are in the same room as you.
  • Call the ACT Communicable Disease Control (CDC) team on (02) 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours. We will advise you on what to do next.
  • If you can’t reach us, call your GP and tell them that you’re a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have developed symptoms. Calling ahead will allow your GP to provide advice and plan for your visit or arrange a telehealth consultation. You should not visit your GP without calling ahead.
  • If you can’t contact your GP or if you don’t have a GP, visit a Respiratory Assessment Clinic.
  • You do not need to visit the Emergency Department unless you have severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain or very high fever. If you develop serious symptoms, call triple zero (000) immediately.

What should I do if I am not eligible for Medicare and need testing or treatment?

If you are not eligible for Medicare, you may already have travel or visa-specific health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance and you need to be tested for COVID-19, the test will be provided free of charge at one  of the ACT government’s Respiratory Assessment Clinics (the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre or the drive-through testing facility at EPIC).

If you don’t have health insurance and you become unwell with suspected COVID-19, public hospitals in the ACT will cover the cost of your diagnosis and treatment for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ACT Government has put these arrangements to support people in the community who have no private health insurance or have no way to pay fund health care for COVID-19.

If you have any questions, or you are not eligible for Medicare and would like to apply for a refund for COVID-19 related health expenses billed from 21 January 2020 please contact the COVID-19 Helpline on (02) 6207 7244 (between 8am - 8pm daily) for more information. If making an application for a refund, you will be provided with a form to complete and someone will contact you within 10 business days to process your application.

More information

acknowledgement icon
Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: May 28 2020