I HAVE TESTED POSITIVE TO COVID - What to do
Look after your health and check if you’re eligible for treatment
Most people will experience mild symptoms and be able to recover safely at home. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, chills, sweats, and/or shortness of breath.
- For mild symptoms – rest and recover at home.
- For worsening symptoms or if you are eligible for anti-viral treatment – contact a GP or GP Respiratory Clinic. You can also contact the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. If you can’t see a GP, you can contact the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department for urgent care.
- For severe symptoms get immediate help and call Triple Zero (000).
Certain groups are eligible for COVID medicines through a GP. To check your eligibility, see Antivirals and other medicines.
If you are eligible, it is important to speak to your GP as soon as possible, even if your symptoms are mild. The medicines are most effective if taken within 5 days of symptom onset and can prevent serious illness.
To manage your symptoms, remember:
- Rest: Sleep and take it easy
- Pain relief: Take paracetamol and ibuprofen as needed (pregnant people should not take ibuprofen)
- Water: Drink regularly throughout the day and have electrolyte drinks or icy poles for extra hydration
- Fresh air: When possible open windows or spend time in your back yard or balcony if you have them
- Speak to your GP: If your symptoms worsen, you may be eligible for medicines or antivirals.
Visit Managing COVID at home for tips and information about managing your symptoms.
Isolate and tell your contacts
You are most infectious 2 days before your symptoms start, and while you have symptoms. It is recommended that you should isolate for at least 5 days and until you don’t have symptoms anymore.
This means you should not go to work, school or grocery shopping. Especially if you work with people at a higher risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19.
While isolating, you should:
- Call your workplace or school and let them know you have COVID-19. There may be financial support available for you to stay home while you recover.
- Tell people and places you may have been in contact with and share the Checklist for COVID-19 Contacts.
- Organise the delivery of essentials like food, medications, and baby formula.
- Don’t work or visit a high-risk setting like hospitals, aged care, and disability services where there are people who are at a higher risk of becoming very sick or needing hospitalisation. Targeted financial support is available for eligible healthcare workers who isolate.
- Isolate away from the other people in your household as much as possible to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
- If people come into your home, let them know that you have COVID-19 so that they can take steps to protect themselves.
- If you need to leave home in an emergency, remember to wear a face mask.
Report your result
If you have tested positive using a rapid antigen test (RAT) you should report your result to the Department of Health online or by calling 1800 675 398. Reporting your result can give you free access to medical care and COVID medicines through the COVID Positive Pathways program.
You do not need to report your result if you tested positive from a PCR test as pathology labs automatically report those results.
Ending isolation and recovering
Most people are still infectious after 5 days and you should stay home if you are still experiencing symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, or sweats.
A negative RAT result is a helpful tool to determine whether you are still infectious. If you’re unsure about ending your isolation, you should contact a GP or a GP Respiratory Clinic.
Wear a face mask when you leave home for at least 7 days after testing positive as you may still be infectious.
Many people feel the impacts of COVID-19 beyond their infectious period. As with any illness, it’s important to return to your regular routine and activities slowly to allow your body the care and time to properly recover.
Long COVID is when symptoms continue for more than 3 months from when you were infected. Symptoms can vary and you should see your GP who can tell you how to best manage your condition. For more information, see Long COVID.
You should wait 3 months before getting your next dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to ensure you get the maximum protection against the virus.
You may be able to contract COVID-19 again as early as 4 weeks after your recovery. You should get tested again after 4 weeks if you have new symptoms.
Reviewed 15 December 2022
Call the Coronavirus Hotline if you need help to report a rapid antigen test (RAT) or if you have any questions about COVID-19.
The Victorian Coronavirus Hotline diverts to the National Coronavirus Helpline every night between 4pm and 9am.
Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.