Do I need to test to see if I have Covid? and how do I do that?

Easy Read: When should you get a COVID-19 test (Word Doc)
Easy Read: When should you get a COVID-19 test (PDF)

NZSL video: Who should get tested?
NZSL video: How to use a Rapid Antigen Test

You should be tested for COVID-19 if:

  • you have symptoms (test straight away),
  • have been identified as a household contact (live with someone who tests positive - test on Day 3 and Day 7), or
  • have been asked to get tested by a health official.

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are now the primary form of testing. These are tests that you do yourself at home and only take 15 minutes

If you have Covid-19 symptoms or are a household contact, you can order free RATs for home testing:

  • online from the RAT requester site or
  • or by ringing 0800 222 478 (option 3) from 8am to 8pm.

You will be issued with an order number and can collect your RAT order from any collection site, or have someone collect it for you - see collection sites.

If you test negative, but still have symptoms 24 hours later, do another RAT test. Despite having obvious symptoms, some people test negative for several days in a row before testing positive. Also note that a positive can be a really faint line that is quite hard to see. If you test negative and are concerned, you can contact a health professional for support (you may be offered a PCR).

PCR tests are still being used in some situations, but results take between 2 and 5 days. A health professional or community testing centre can advise you which test to take. PCR tests may still be used for people who need it, such as those who are immunocompromised, symptomatic and have had a negative rat test. For more information about this see the Ministry of Health Testing Guidance for the Health Sector - Page 2 (Word Doc).

What if I'm not comfortable doing a RAT on my own?

If you’re not comfortable doing a RAT on your own, you may be able to get a free supervised RAT from your GP or urgent care clinic.

The Healthpoint website also has a list of the Covid testing stations where this service is available (currently there are large gaps around the country where this is unavailable at testing stations).

What if I can't pick up a RAT?

Once you have ordered the test, you can have someone else collect the RAT for you. They will need your order number.

The Ministry of Health is currently working on a delivery option for people who don't have someone who can collect a RAT for them. In the meantime, the following services already mention delivery options on their websites:

Wairarapa DHB - to arrange a pick up or delivery, please email or call 0800 829 924.

Ngarauhine Iwi Health Service is offering delivery to East Taranaki for those who require them.

Well South Invercargill may be available to delivery in some select cases.

If you none of the above options are available, you can call the free COVID welfare phone line on 0800 512 337 and see if delivery may be able to be organised. The helpline is connected to different councils, community groups, iwi and Pacific groups, so this whether this may be able to be arranged will depend on the options available in your local area.

What if I don't have symptoms and am not a household contact but want to do a RAT test?

You are not eligible for a free RAT test, however you can buy RATs at some pharmacies and other stores such as the Warehouse. Prices vary from around $30 to $50 for a box of 5 tests. Availability is also varied with some stores currently out of stock, so it may be worth checking before making a trip to a pharmacy.

I’ve tested positive for Covid-19 – what do I do?

Easy Read:What happens if your COVID-19 test result is positive (Word Doc)
Easy Read:What happens if your COVID-19 test result is positive (PDF)

Easy Read: What to do if you need to stay home to self-isolate (Word Doc)
Easy Read: What to do if you need to stay home to self-isolate (PDF)

Easy Read: Getting the support you need during COVID-19 (Word Doc)
Easy Read: Getting the support you need during COVID-19 (PDF)

NZSL video: What happens if my Covid-19 test comes back positive?
NZSL video:Self-isolation

The Covid-19 Health Hub has easy to follow simple advice for people who have tested positive. This includes information about:

  • self isolating
  • who you need to tell that you are positive
  • symptoms and monitoring symptoms
  • looking after your mental health and wellbeing
  • help that is available should you need it including:
  • Health care advice for your region
  • Ministry of Social Development help available for those self-isolating (if you need financial support for emergencies and ongoing needs and/or help with food and other welfare needs.)
  • Ways to get support if you are the victim of family or sexual violence
  • Financial support
  • Getting food and medicine

Countdown has priority slots for people who are self-isolating. If you so not already have a priority code you can register as self-isolating on the Countdown website and earlier slots will become available to you for having your groceries delivered.

You can also call the free COVID welfare phone line on 0800 512 337 if you need support with things like food and finances.  

Other help available (that is not listed on Covid-19 Health Hub) is:

  • The Student Volunteer Army Grocery service is available nationwide to those in self-isolation or have no other way to access food
  • The Wellington Student Volunteer Army are also accepting requests for general support. They can do tasks such as pick up groceries, and do pharmacy trips. Please note, they are unable to collect rapid antigen tests (RAT tests).
  • If you need food urgently, your local foodbank may be able to help.
  • If you need medication, contact your local pharmacy or GP who will arrange for it to be safely delivered.
  • You can contact your local medical centre and ask if they know of local support available. Some medical centres have contacts with local groups who are offering support such as free grocery boxes for people who are self-isolating

For most people symptoms of COVID-19 will be mild.

If your symptoms get worse or you need medical care, call your local healthcare provider or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
Please do not hesitate to do this! There are some very effective medications out there for treating Covid symptoms - so you don't need to just try to ride it out. If you have such a sore throat that it's stopping you from drinking enough and/or you have gastro symptoms that may leave you dehydrated, and/or you are in a lot of pain and/or have any other symptoms that are not mild- healthcare professionals are there to help.

If you or the person you are caring for develops difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, fainting or becomes unconscious, call 111 immediately.