Information for people who test positive for COVID-19

Summary of what to expect if you test positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19 on a PCR test, you will be contacted by ACT Health via phone or text.

If you test positive for COVID-19 with a RAT, you must register with ACT Health using our online form and then you will be contacted by phone or text.

Registering with ACT Health will mean you can access care and advice appropriate to you.

If you have tested positive by PCR or declared a positive RAT, you will be sent a short survey.

Most people who have a positive RAT will not need to have a repeat test or a PCR (see who may want a PCR test following a positive RAT for more information).

Some people are at higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. These people may be eligible for specific COVID-19 treatments or need additional monitoring or advice. COVID-19 medications need to be started early for greatest benefit.

If you are at higher risk of severe illness, you should have a discussion with your GP or regular medical specialist, as soon as possible. You can call your GP or have a telehealth consultation while you are isolating. If you cannot speak to your GP early in your illness call ACT COVID-19 Care@Home on 02 5124 3085 between 8am to 6pm, daily.

In the ACT, everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 7 days (where the day of your test is day zero, you will be cleared from isolation at 11.59pm on day 7).

You do not need any further tests once you have received a positive result (see do I need to have any more COVID-19 tests for more information).

People who have received a positive PCR test result or have registered a positive RAT result with ACT Health will receive a clearance from isolation document from ACT Health when they have completed their period of isolation.

Who do I contact if I’ve tested positive to COVID-19?

If you tested positive on a rapid antigen test (RAT), please register your positive result using our online form.

People who have tested positive to COVID-19 must tell:

  • the people they live with
  • their workplace if they attended during their infectious period
  • any education (e.g. early childhood, school, out of school hours care, tertiary education) and high-risk settings they attended during their infectious period.

They should also tell their social contacts that they are at risk of getting COVID-19 if they spent time with them during their infectious period.

The infectious period is from 2 days before they started having symptoms or tested positive (whichever came first).

More information for social and household contacts and what they need to do is available at information for people exposed to COVID-19.

Completing the case survey

Once you have tested positive by PCR or declared a positive RAT, you will be sent a link to a short survey via SMS.

Completion of the survey will:

  • Assist with identifying if you are at higher risk of severe illness and support connection to COVID-19 Care@Home if required for medical advice and support.
  • Ensure you receive official clearance documentation which you may later need as evidence of infection and proof of exemption from testing and isolation requirements.
  • Assist ACT Health to identify any high-risk settings (for example, aged care facilities) you may have visited while infectious that require follow-up. You are still required to tell any high-risk settings you attended during your infectious period.

Information provided in the survey remains confidential and is not provided to anyone else without your consent.

ACT Health may contact you to obtain further information once you have completed the survey.

If you require assistance completing the survey, including an interpreter, please call the COVID-19 Response team on 02 5124 6500.

Managing COVID-19

Many people who contract COVID-19 will experience mild symptoms and feel better in 3 to 4 days.

A small portion of people may feel quite unwell for 7 to 14 days.

Initial symptoms may include a fever, sore throat, muscle pain and loss of taste.

Most people are able to manage their symptoms at home by staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest.

People with COVID-19 symptoms can also benefit from pain relief (such as paracetamol or ibuprofen), heat/cold packs or the use of rehydration tablets, icy poles or sachets if needed.

Having a thermometer on hand can be helpful to track fevers too.

How do I get medical support?

If you have COVID but are not severely unwell

If you are managing well at home but want to discuss your symptoms or get personalised support, there are 2 options:

  1. call your GP for a telehealth appointment and ask if you are eligible for COVID-19 treatment.
  2. drop in to the COVID-19 clinic at the Garran Surge Centre (open 8.30am to 5pm daily) where you can receive face to face support for your COVID or non-COVID related medical concerns.

If you have a child under 2 years, please call your GP or the ACT COVID-19 Care@Home team on 02 5124 3085 rather than visit this clinic. The COVID Care@Home service runs from 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week. After 6pm, you should call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222.

How should I seek urgent medical attention?

Call triple zero (000) straight away if you are concerned or your symptoms are worsening, especially if you are having difficulty breathing, have chest pain, or feel faint. (see below for more information)

Tell the phone operator you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Tell them you have severe symptoms and need an ambulance.

Wear a mask as you approach the hospital and change your mask to the surgical mask provided to you on arrival.

If your symptoms are mild, you can call your GP, or you can access the COVID-19 medical clinic at the Garran Surge Centre or phone the ACT COVID-19 Care@Home team, on 02 5124 3085, between 8am to 6pm daily. After 6pm, you should call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Who is at a higher risk of a serious COVID-19 illness?

You may be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you are:

  • Aged 65 years and older
  • Pregnant
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (from age 50 years and over)
  • Someone with an underlying health condition including: obesity, diabetes, serious cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease (including severe asthma requiring hospitalisation the last 12 months), severe chronic liver or kidney disease, active cancer or who are immunocompromised
  • aged 18 years and older and unvaccinated

If you fall into one of these categories, you may be eligible for specific treatments or benefit from additional care and support. To discuss your individual situation, talk to your GP or the ACT COVID-19 Care@Home team on 02 5124 3085, between 8am to 6pm, daily. After 6pm, you should call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222.

ACT COVID-19 Care@Home program

If you are diagnosed as having COVID-19 in the ACT and you are isolating at home, you can chose to be enrolled into the ACT COVID-19 Care@Home program.

The ACT COVID-19 Care@Home team includes doctors and nurses who can support any treatment related to COVID-19 while you are isolating.

Once you have given consent, the  ACT COVID-19 Care@Home team will send you a text with a link to enrol in the MyDHR App where you can report your COVID-19 symptoms and your progress can be monitored by ACT COVID-19 Care@Home team.

If you complete the 'symptom checker' on the MyDHR App, the ACT COVID-19 Care@Home team will be alerted to any changes to your condition that may need medical attention.

If this is the case, one of the ACT COVID-19 Care@Home nurses will contact you. However, if you are worried about your symptoms, you should follow the advice above to contact your GP, ACT COVID-19 Care@Home or seek urgent care as appropriate .

How to login and use the MyDHR App

If you have issues with the MyDHR login process please contact ACT Government's digital support team on 02 5124 5000, between 8am to 5pm, daily.

Depending on other medical conditions or the severity of symptoms, some COVID-19 positive people isolating at home may be provided with a pulse oximeter, to measure oxygen levels and/or a thermometer to measure temperature.

Using a pulse oximeter

If you receive a pulse oximeter, use it 3 times each day to measure your oxygen level and heart rate.

To use the pulse oximeter:

  • put the device on your middle, ring or index finger (make sure you have removed any nail polish prior to use).
    • if it is not working on one finger, try another.
  • press the ‘on’ button.
    • after a few seconds, your oxygen reading and heart rate will appear on the device screen
  • remove the oximeter from your finger and it will turn off automatically.

When do I need to seek additional medical care?

You may experience a wide range of symptoms with COVID-19.

If any of these symptoms become so intense that it is difficult to manage your day-to-day activities (such as walking, bathing, toileting, eating and drinking) please contact the ACT COVID-19 Care@Home program on 02 5124 3085.

The COVID Care@Home service runs from 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week.

After 6pm, you should call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222.

The HealthDirect advice line is available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Please urgently seek help if you note any of the following:

  • increasing shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • dizziness when standing
  • temperature that continues at greater than 38oC
  • (if you have been delivered a pulse oximeter) oxygen saturation of 94% or less
  • heart rate that stays at above 100 beats per minute
  • diarrhoea more than 4 times per day.

If you are at higher risk of severe illness, you should contact your GP for an assessment early in your illness, even if you are feeling reasonably well.

Am I eligible for new COVID-19 treatments?

In January 2022, the first oral treatments for COVID-19 were approved for use in Australia, Lagevrio® (molnupiravir) and Paxlovid® (nirmatrelvir + ritonavir).

These tablet medications help prevent hospitalisation and death in people who are at increased risk of serious COVID-19 illness.

Sotrovimab (an intravenous (IV) antibody therapy) can also still be offered for patients that require it.

Inhaled steroids may also be offered to eligible people who may benefit.

How do I find out if I am eligible for COVID-19 treatments?

If you test positive to COVID-19 on a RAT or PCR test and are at higher risk of severe illness , you should call your GP or regular medical specialist to inform them that you have COVID-19 and ask about your eligibility for treatment.

If you are unable to speak to your GP, you can also contact ACT COVID-19 Care@Home for an eligibility assessment and arrangement for access to treatment if indicated.

How do I manage a child with COVID-19?

Most children who test positive for COVID-19 can be safely cared for at home by their usual household carers, even if they are not vaccinated.

When caring for your child with COVID-19 at home, you should:

  • dress your child in appropriate clothing, so that they are comfortable – not sweating or shivering
  • give your child plenty of fluids to drink
    • they may not feel like drinking much so will need your help and encouragement to have small frequent drinks.
  • encourage them to rest and not overdo it.
  • use paracetamol or ibuprofen only if you think your child is in pain or appears uncomfortable with a fever.
    • follow the instructions on the label, and do not give more of these medicines than is recommended in a 24-hour period, as this may be harmful for children.
  • watch your child for signs that their illness is getting worse.

Monitor your child’s condition and call your GP or ACT COVID-19 Care@Home program on 02 5124 3085 between 8am to 6pm daily. After 6pm, you should call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) if you are worried or if you notice any of the following:

  • persistent fever (greater than 39°C) which is not responding to treatment
  • mild breathlessness
  • reduced fluid intake, drinking less than half of normal
  • reduced urine output, passing less than half of normal
  • moderate vomiting or diarrhoea
  • unable to stand or walk.

If you are concerned that your child is seriously unwell, has difficulty breathing, is severely dehydrated or fainting, please call triple zero (000) immediately and inform the operator that your child has COVID-19.

If you wish to log your child’s clinical progress on the MyDHR app, please contact ACT COVID-19 Care@Home team on 02 5124 3085 (between 8am to 6pm, daily) so you can be placed as a proxy on their account to enter the relevant data.

More information is available on children and COVID-19 page.

Isolation

Where should I isolate?

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you need to isolate at home.

To do this you will require food and other necessities to be delivered to your home (see what is a suitable premise).

You cannot have contact with anyone delivering any supplies.

Contactless delivery is fine.

If you are not able to safely isolate at home, you can discuss options with ACT Health by calling 02 5124 5498.

If a person with a disability is diagnosed with COVID-19 and cannot safely isolate at home, they or their carer will need to contact ACT Health to discuss options.

What you must do if you are isolating at home

You are required to stay at home for at least 7 days and cannot leave to go to:

  • work
  • school,
  • public or retail spaces (including parks, shops, cafes or restaurants).

Visitors cannot come to your home while you are isolating, with the exception of healthcare or disability professionals providing an essential service – you should tell them that you have tested positive for COVID-19 so they can take appropriate precautions.

If people come to your home to drop off food or supplies, they need to leave them outside.

You cannot have contact with anyone delivering any supplies.

You also need to maintain appropriate separation from other people in your household.

Can I go outside?

If you live in a private house, you may go outside into your private garden or courtyard.

If you live in an apartment, it is safe to go onto your balcony or a private courtyard, if you have one.

You cannot go onto a balcony or courtyard that is shared with other households.

When can I leave isolation?

You need to stay in isolation for at least 7 days. The day you took your test is day zero. You will be cleared from isolation at 11.59pm on day 7.

You can only leave isolation when ACT Health has notified you in writing by email or text that you are cleared for release from isolation.

You do not need a test to leave isolation.

Please see information for people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Can I leave isolation if I still have symptoms?

A person who has had COVID-19 is at most risk of passing the infection on to others during the first 7 days of their illness.

However, you may still be infectious for a short time after this, so it is important that you continue to take the following measures to protect those around you for several more days.

You should not return to work, and should minimise contact with other people, until your symptoms are either gone or you are feeling much better.

You should also not enter high-risk settings, including hospitals, residential aged care facilities, correctional and detention facilities during this time. This does not apply if you need to access urgent medical care, or are a resident in one of these settings.

How can I get medications while I am in isolation?

If your supplies of your regular medication are running low, please contact your local pharmacy regarding how you can get your medications delivered.

If you need prescriptions, please contact your regular GP for a telehealth appointment or script renewal.

E-scripts are available that can be sent directly to your phone or email.

How can I get some mental health and wellbeing support?

Isolation can be distressing.

If you are having very strong feelings of worry, unease or fear and you are struggling to cope it is important to seek support.

For support, visit the mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 page.

ACT Health has a wellbeing team available to provide support to people who are in self-isolation.

If you would like a referral to the ACT Wellbeing team, please contact ACT Health on (02) 5124 5498.

Exemptions to leave whilst isolating with COVID-19

See Exemptions to leave whilst isolating with COVID-19 for more information.

Do I need to have any more COVID tests?

In general, no further COVID-19 tests will be required to clear you from isolation.

You do not need testing to allow you to return to work.

A small number of very immunocompromised people may be required to have repeat tests if they are currently receiving care in, or are patients in, high-risk settings.

This will be discussed with you after your diagnosis where relevant.

What actions do my household contacts need to do?

Please see people who are exposed to COVID-19.

When do I need to get tested after recovering from COVID-19?

See when do I need to get a COVID-19 test as a recovered case?

What do I do about COVID-19 vaccination?

You should wait for 3 months (90 days) after a confirmed COVID-19 infection before you get your next COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Recovering from COVID-19

For information about receiving clearance to leave isolation and what to do after you have recovered from COVID-19, please visit Recovering from COVID-19.

How can I get culturally appropriate support?

If you’re affected by COVID-19 tailored support to suit your cultural needs is important.

Information is available on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural webpages.

You can also email COVID19HECCLOAboriginalandTorresStraitIslander@act.gov.au or Community.Engagement@act.gov.au to connect with our Community Engagement teams.

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 20 2022