What happens if my test comes back positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19, there are several steps you will need to take and instructions you will need to follow. A staff member from your local public health unit will talk you through each of these steps:

  1. Case interview
  2. Relocating to a quarantine facility if appropriate
  3. Receiving treatment for COVID-19 while in a quarantine facility
  4. Returning home from a quarantine facility

Further details on these steps are below.

1. Case interview

What is a case interview?

The first thing that needs to happen is what we call a “case interview”. This is a phone call that can take up to an hour and can be broken up into shorter phone conversations if you’re feeling unwell. A telephone interpreter in your preferred language can be arranged for this phone call.

What’s covered in the case interview?

A staff member from the local public health unit will ask you for full details of everywhere you have been recently. They will ask you to check your diary, family calendar, your bank statements, your NZ COVID Tracer app and may ask you to verify details with your family, whānau and friends.

Why do we need a case interview?

This conversation has two purposes: to try and identify who or where you got the infection from, and to identify anyone you have had contact with and may have passed the infection to, so we can contact those people and stop COVID-19 spreading further. The faster we can trace your close and casual contacts, the faster we can prevent COVID-19 spreading.

2. Relocating to a quarantine facility

What happens after my case interview?

After your case interview, you will be asked to move into one of our quarantine facilities as quickly as possible, unless suitable other arrangements are approved by the Medical Officer of Health.

Why do I need to move into a quarantine facility?

This is to ensure your health and welfare needs are met and stops you posing an ongoing risk of infection to your whānau and community. Quarantine facility staff will closely monitor your physical and mental health during your stay. These staff are well-trained on cleaning and hygiene procedures to keep the disease isolated and have protective equipment to do this safely.

What is the difference between a quarantine facility and a managed isolation facility?

Quarantine facilities are in a different location or area to managed isolation facilities. At a quarantine facility, a higher level of care is provided, with increased health and safety and cleaning measures and additional restrictions on people’s movements.

What about my family?

Your household close contacts will need to self-isolate. It’s up to you and your family/household to decide if you want to isolate together in a quarantine facility, or if the person with COVID-19 goes into quarantine alone. A staff member from your public health unit will support you in making these decisions and arrangements.

Does my family need to complete exemption paperwork to join me in quarantine?

When your COVID-19 diagnosis is a result of community transmission, your family/household members will not need to apply for an exemption to join you in a quarantine facility. The Medical Officer will talk you through who should go with you.

What about my pets?

If you have pets that will need to be looked after while you’re away from home, you will have time to make these arrangements.

How long will I have to prepare and how will I get to the facility?

A staff member from your public health unit will support you in making all necessary arrangements, including transport to the facility, and will confirm these details with you on a case-by-case basis over the phone.

What services will be available to me in the facility?

On arrival, you will be provided with a ‘welcome pack’ with information about what to expect during your stay. You will be provided with three meals a day and snacks, Wi-Fi, laundry services and basic toiletries and refreshments, so you don’t need to leave to get supplies. Read more about isolation facilities. There is no cost to you for these services or the care that you receive.

3. Receiving treatment for COVID-19

What treatment will I receive while I’m unwell?

A dedicated health team will be caring for you, and they will confirm your treatment details with you on a case-by-case basis.

What happens if I get really sick while I’m in a quarantine facility?

In some cases, people with COVID-19 become very unwell and need to be admitted to hospital. In this case, the hospital will take the steps needed to isolate you while giving you the medical care you need.

Is there a cost for my treatment?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you won’t need to pay for your stay in quarantine, or for any COVID-19 related medical costs.

4. Returning home from a quarantine facility

When will I know I’m able to return home from a quarantine facility?

The health team that cares for you will determine when you can return home and resume your everyday activities.

How long will I be in quarantine?

Public health will release you when there is confidence you are no longer infectious. For people with a mild to moderate illness that didn’t require hospital care, this will be at least ten days after the onset of your symptoms, and after you have had no symptoms from this illness for the previous 72 hours.

People with more severe illness who were in hospital will need more time before they can return home and resume their usual activities. This will be on a case by case basis and at least 10 days need to have passed since hospital discharge, there has been resolution of all symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours, and they do not have major immunosuppression (such as being within a year of bone marrow transplantation or receiving chemotherapy).

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