Quarantine information for people who are awaiting COVID-19 test results

Who can be isolated at home?

Most people who have been tested for COVID-19 can await their test result at home, in self-isolation. If you are very unwell, your doctor or other healthcare professional may arrange for you to be hospitalised.

What does it mean to be isolated at home?

Being isolated at home means that you must stay at home. You cannot leave home to go to work, school, or public areas (such as shops, cafes or restaurants). You must not have visitors at your home.

If you need to travel to seek medical care while you are isolated at home, you must use a private mode of transport, such as a private car, whenever possible. However, if using public transport is your only option, you should wear a mask, 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 difficulty breathing or are seriously unwell and it is an emergency, call triple zero (000) immediately. Alert ambulance staff that you have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting your test result.

How long do I need to be isolated at home?

You will need to remain isolated at home until you get your test result.

If your test result is negative, and you were already in home 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 self-quarantine. You should continue to carefully monitor your health and report any new or returning/worsening symptoms to the ACT Communicable Disease Control (CDC) team on (02) 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours. You may need to be tested again.

If your test result is negative, and you were not required to be in home quarantine before you were tested, you no longer need to remain in isolation. You may return to normal activities once your symptoms have resolved.

If your test result is positive, CDC will contact you and advise you on what to do next. You will need to remain in isolation until CDC tells you it is safe to come out of isolation.

Do I need to wear a mask, and should other people in my home wear a mask?

You should wear a surgical mask while you are inside your home when other people are present. Other people in your home who are well do not need to wear a surgical mask.

However, if you cannot wear a surgical mask, the people who live with you should not be in the same room as you and should wear a mask if they have to enter your room.

Can I go outside?

If you live in a private house, then it is safe for you to go outside into your garden or courtyard. If you live in an apartment, it is also safe for you to go outside into the garden, if there is no one else present in the garden. You must wear a mask to minimise risk to others and move quickly through any common areas. It is safe to go onto your balcony if you have one.

Do other household members need to be isolated?

While you are awaiting your COVID-19 test result, the people you live with generally will not need to be isolated, as long as they are well and are not already required to be in home quarantine due to recent overseas travel or close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

If you live with a healthcare worker or aged care worker who has direct patient contact, or are otherwise concerned about someone you live with, please contact CDC for advice on (02) 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours.

If someone you live with becomes unwell while you are awaiting your test result, they should immediately self-isolate at home. They can call their GP for advice or contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. This line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If someone you live with develops difficulty breathing or is seriously unwell and it is an emergency, call triple zero (000) immediately. Alert ambulance staff that they live with someone who has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting their test result.

How do I keep the people I live with safe?

Practising good hygiene behaviour is the best defence against the spread of all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You and the people you live with should practice good general hygiene, hand hygiene, and respiratory/cough etiquette.

This includes:

  • Washing your hands with liquid soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds. Drying hands on paper towel and not sharing hand towels.
  • Cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if your hands are not visibly soiled. Covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
  • Using liquid soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Washing your hands before handling food, before eating, before entering rooms and before touching other peoples’ possessions.
  • Washing your hands after using the toilet.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoiding close contact with others.
  • Coughing and sneezing into your elbow or directly into a tissue, throwing the tissue in a lined bin, and washing your hands.
  • Avoiding sharing towels and bedding with other people in your home.
  • Not sharing cutlery, dishes, utensils and drinking glasses, and making sure that after use they are cleaned thoroughly with detergent and water or in the dishwasher.
  • Making sure shared spaces in the home have good airflow by opening a window or using air conditioning -if the weather allows.
  • Cleaning frequently touched surfaces regularly, using detergent and water, followed by a household disinfectant or diluted bleach solution.

What if my symptoms get worse?

If you get new symptoms or your symptoms get worse, and you are concerned about your health, you should call your GP for advice or contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. This line operates 24 hours a day, 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 that you have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting results.

How do I shop for food or get medication?

You may need more groceries whilst you are awaiting your test result. If the people you live with are unable to get groceries, or if you live alone, friends or family living outside of your household can deliver groceries to your home. They should leave the groceries at your door.

Some grocery stores offer home delivery if groceries are ordered online, including the main supermarket chains. The delivery instructions should state that groceries should be left at your front door. If your groceries must be signed for, someone else who is not in isolation should do this.

If you run out of your regular medications while you are awaiting your test result, you should arrange for your medications to be delivered to your home, by a family member, friend or your usual pharmacy. Tell them you are isolating yourself at home and to notify you when they arrive at your home but to leave the medications at your front door.

Further assistance

If you have more questions or need help while you are awaiting your test results, you can contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. This line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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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: April 01 2020