Symptoms and getting tested

Symptoms of COVID-19

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath.

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

Symptoms can develop between two to 14 days after you are exposed to the virus.

Most commonly, symptoms develop five or six days after exposure.

Getting tested

Seek medical attention if you feel unwell and develop any symptoms of COVID-19.

Get tested for COVID-19 if you have:

  • a fever of 37.5 degrees or higher (or recent history of fever such as chills or night sweats)
  • and/or a respiratory infection, such as shortness of breath, cough or sore throat.

If you have other symptoms, you may be eligible for testing after you see a health professional.

We must prioritise tests for those feeling unwell, so if you have no symptoms and have not attended a COVID-19 affected area, you don’t need to be tested.

Testing of people without symptoms may be recommended in specific circumstances, including:

  • for people in quarantine who may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • during outbreaks in high-risk settings (for example, aged care facilities)
  • as part of public health investigations where the source of a person’s exposure to COVID-19 is uncertain.

If you have symptoms, you can call your GP.

You should not visit your GP without calling ahead.

Testing will be arranged by your GP if they decide it is necessary.

You can also visit a COVID-19 Testing Clinic.

Don’t visit the Emergency Department unless you have severe symptoms.

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

Tell them you’re worried you may have COVID-19.

For more information, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

If you live in NSW, visit the NSW Government COVID-19 website for information about getting tested in NSW.

Before being tested

Take steps to reduce the risk of transmission when seeking medical attention.

Limit your exposure to other people while you are unwell.

While you have symptoms, stay home except for when you need to seek medical attention.

When travelling to and from getting tested, do not go to any public places such as shops, caf├ęs or restaurants or your workplace.

People who are in quarantine who need testing, or people who are symptomatic, can use public transport, rideshare or taxi to get to a testing centre, as long as they take appropriate precautions. These are:

    Sitting in the backseat of a taxi/rideshare
  • Wearing a mask if you have one
  • Practising good respiratory hygiene/cough etiquette
  • Maintaining physical distance from all other people, including transport staff, drivers and passengers
  • Washing hands before and after travel

If possible, use a private mode of transport, such as a private car.

COVID-19 Testing Clinic locations

Respiratory assessment clinics

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

No appointment required

Weston Creek Walk-in Centre Respiratory Assessment Clinic

24 Parkinson St, Weston
Open 7:30am to 10:00pm daily, including public holidays

  • Please use a mask and hand sanitiser available at the front door.
  • Children of any age can be tested at the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre.
  • 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 before visiting to confirm a GP is available.

Drive Through COVID-19 Testing at Exhibition Park in Canberra

EPIC, Flemington Road and Northbourne Avenue, Mitchell
Open 9:30am to 5:00pm daily (last car accepted at 5pm) including public holidays, 7 days a week

  • This clinic cannot be accessed from public transport or on foot.
  • You must be a driver or a passenger in a registered motor vehicle or motorbike to attend this clinic. You will not be required to leave your vehicle.
  • Children under the age of eight cannot be tested.

Drive Through COVID-19 Testing at Kambah

Jenke Circuit, Kambah
Open 9:30am to 5:00pm, 7 days a week (last car accepted at 5:00pm)

  • This clinic cannot be accessed from public transport or on foot.
  • You must be a driver or a passenger in a registered motor vehicle or motorbike to attend this clinic. You will not be required to leave your vehicle.
  • Children under the 8 years of age cannot be tested.

COVID-19 Walk-in Testing Clinic on Garran Oval

Garran Oval (entry from Kitchener St)
Open 9:30am to 5pm daily, 7 days a week

  • Children under 2 years of age cannot be tested.

West Belconnen COVID-19 Walk-in Testing Clinic

6 Luke St, Holt
Open 9:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

  • Please use a mask and hand sanitiser available at the front door.
  • Children under 2 years of age cannot be tested.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Respiratory Clinic

63 Boolimba Crescent, Narrabundah
Open 9:30am to 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. Testing is available for people of any age.
  • Before visiting, please call ahead on (02) 6284 6222.

By appointment

1/5 Baratta Street, Crace
Open 1:00pm to 5:00pm, Monday to Friday

Lakeview Medical Practice Tuggeranong
1/216 Cowlishaw Street, Greenway
Open 9:00am to 1:00pm and 2:00pm to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday

After being tested, while you wait for your results

You will be told if you are well enough to return home or if you need to be hospitalised while you wait for results.

After being tested for COVID-19, you need to stay at home until you receive a negative result and until your symptoms resolve.

However, if you were in mandatory quarantine before you got tested (e.g. due to recent travel or being a close contact of a COVID-19 case), you must still complete your full 14-day quarantine period as advised by ACT Health, even if you get a negative test result and your symptoms resolve

While you are unwell you should minimise contact with other people in your home and practise good hygiene.
If you get new symptoms or your symptoms get worse while you are waiting for your test result, and you are concerned about your health, you can call your GP and ask for a telehealth consultation.

Do not visit your GP without calling first.

If you do not have a regular GP or cannot get an appointment, you can call one of the GP Respiratory Clinics to make an appointment.

The GP Respiratory Clinics in the ACT are located at YourGP@Crace, Lakeview Respiratory Clinic in Greenway, and Winnunga Nimmityjah Respiratory Clinic.

Test results

If your result is positive, you will usually receive the result in one to two days.

The Communicable Disease Control (CDC) Section of ACT Health will contact you and give you advice about what you need to do.

If your result is negative, you will usually receive the result in two to four days.

You may receive negative results in a text message or over the phone, depending on where you are tested.

If you do not receive your results within this time:

  • contact the GP who ordered your test or the clinic that collected the swab
  • if you were tested at the West Belconnen COVID-19 Testing Clinic, COVID-19 Testing Clinic on Garran Oval, Weston Creek Walk-in Centre or the Drive Through COVID-19 Testing Clinic at EPIC, you can call (02) 5124 5574 to ask for your test result. Please note that this service is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Negative results

If you were already in quarantine

You would be in quarantine if, in the past 14 days, you have:

  • returned to Australia from overseas;
  • been in Victoria;
  • visited a high-risk NSW venue on a specified date; or
  • had close contact with a COVID-19 case.

If you are in quarantine and your result is negative, you still need to complete your full quarantine period.

Keep monitoring your health.

If you develop new or worsening symptoms, you may need to be tested again.

Contact your GP or visit a COVID-19 Testing Clinic.

If you were not in quarantine

You can return to your usual activities, but only after you are well again

If you are not sure whether you should be in quarantine, please contact the COVID-19 Helpline on (02) 6207 7244.

Positive results

Communicable Diseases Control (CDC) will contact you to provide advice and identify people you may have had contact with while you were infectious.

CDC and your treating medical team will determine whether you need to be managed in hospital or 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.

You must remain in self-isolation until CDC advises you that it’s safe to return to normal activities.

CDC will contact you regularly while you are in self-isolation.

If you have close contact with someone with COVID-19

A close contact is:

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

Communicable Diseases Control (CDC) will identify close contacts of COVID-19 cases.

If you are a close contact, you need to quarantine at home.

Monitor your health while in quarantine and get tested if you develop symptoms.

CDC will contact you regularly until 14 days after your last exposure with the infectious person.

If you think you are a close contact and you haven’t been called by CDC, you can the COVID-19 Helpline on (02) 6207 7244.

If you’re not eligible for Medicare

If you are not eligible for Medicare, you may already have travel or visa-specific health insurance.

If you don’t have health insurance, you can get tested free of charge at a COVID-19 Testing Clinic.

If you don’t have health insurance, public hospitals in the ACT will cover the cost of your diagnosis and treatment if you have COVID-19.

The ACT Government has put these arrangements in place to support people in the community who have no private health insurance or have no way to pay for health care for COVID-19.

These arrangements remain in place until the pandemic is over.

Under the arrangements, you can apply for a refund for any medical costs due to COVID-19.

If you have any questions or want to apply for the refund, call the COVID-19 Helpline on (02) 6207 7244 between 8am and 8pm daily.

If making an application for a refund, you will be given a form.

Someone will contact you within 10 business days to process your application.

COVID-19 and the flu

COVID-19 and influenza (flu) are caused by different viruses, but both cause respiratory illness.

The symptoms are often very similar.

You can get both illnesses at the same time, which could make you very sick. To avoid this, get your 2020 flu vaccination.


The key symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath.

The most common symptoms of influenza are fever, cough, sore throat or runny nose, body aches, feeling tired and fatigued and loss of appetite.

For more information on symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza.

For more information about getting tested for COVID-19, visit Getting Tested section.


Both viruses are transmitted in the same way.

This means that the same public health measures are important to prevent both infections.

Visit the Protect yourself page for more information.


An important difference between the two viruses is the incubation time – the time from infection to appearance of symptoms.

The flu typically has a shorter incubation period than COVID-19.

While both viruses can cause severe disease, it appears severe and critical disease occurs more commonly in people with COVID-19.

The flu vaccine and COVID-19

The flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19.

If you get the flu, your immunity may be lowered, making you susceptible to other illnesses like COVID-19.

It is highly recommended that you get vaccinated each year to prevent the flu.

For more information on the flu and getting vaccinated, visit the ACT Health website.

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: August 05 2020