Do I need to get tested for COVID-19?

If you have cold or flu symptoms – or if you have visited a location of interest during the relevant timeframe (see below) – stay home and call your doctor, iwi health provider or Healthline 0800 358 5453. They will let you know whether you should have a COVID-19 test. Testing is an important part of our COVID-19 strategy.

Key points

  1. If you were at a location of interest at the stated time, follow the Ministry of Health’s advice for what to do (see below).
  2. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, stay at home and contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 to see if you should get a test.
  3. Don’t seek a test if you have not been at a location of interest at the stated time and don't have any COVID-19 symptoms. 
  4. Only get and share information from reliable sources.
  5. Whether there is an outbreak or not, always use the NZ COVID Tracer app, have Bluetooth turned on, use a face mask on public transport and follow good hygiene (hand washing, sneezing and coughing into your elbow).

Who should get tested?

If you’re unwell

If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, call:

  • Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453
  • your doctor or iwi health provider.

A health professional will let you know the next steps and if you should get a test. Find out where to get a COVID-19 test.

If you visited a location of interest

If you visited a location of interest at a certain time, you may be a close contact, close plus contact, casual contact or causal plus contact. Find out more about types of contact and current locations of interest. Follow the Ministry of Health advice on what to do, depending on which type of contact you are.

If you did not visit a location of interest

When there is an outbreak, there is very high demand for tests from people who have not been to locations of interest, are not symptomatic and who are not the priority for testing. 

  • If you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms, you do not need to be tested.
  • If you have symptoms but you did not visit a location of interest, stay home and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice. 

Don't go to a medical clinic without phoning first – you may infect other people

For COVID-19 related health concerns call Healthline 0800 358 5453 or your doctor or iwi health provider. If it is an emergency, phone 111 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department. 

Don't call Healthline for non-health related issues. Find out more about the alert levels and what to do at Unite Against COVID.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms or tohu mate of COVID-19 are similar to common illnesses such as a cold or flu. You may have one or more of the following: 

Common symptoms

  • a new or worsening cough (mare tauraki)
  • fever (at least 38˚C) (kirikā)
  • shortness of breath (hēmanawa)
  • a sore throat  (korokoro mamae)
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell.

Shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

Less common symptoms

Some people may have less typical symptoms such as only:

  • fever
  • diarrhoea (runny poos)
  • headache, myalgia (muscle pain)
  • nausea/vomiting (feeling or being sick)
  • confusion/irritability.

Note that the less common symptoms are more common with the new variants.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor, Healthline 0800 358 5453 or your iwi health provider.

If you need an interpreter

Follow this process:

  1. Feeling unwell? Call Healthline 0800 358 5453
  2. Immediately say the language you need, for example, ‘Korean’ and WAIT (it could take up to 5-10mins), DO NOT HANG UP!
  3. The Healthline staff have been briefed not to carry on talking in English to you if you have said the language you need first. You will be connected to an interpreter.
  4. You can tell the interpreter your health concerns as part of a three-way conversation with the Healthline staff.

See also the Ministry of Health's easy to read resources translated by the Red Cross into other languages.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

The Government has set up a number of community testing centres to provide safe places to get tested (swabbed) for COVID-19. Find your nearest community testing centre.

If you are concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing, please call your GP, iwi health provider or Healthline 0800 358 5453. They will advise you whether to go to your doctor or to a community testing centre for a swab test.

Read more about community-based testing centres.

Is there a fee for a COVID-19 test?

Publicly funded COVID-19 related care – including diagnosis, testing and treatment – is provided free to anyone who needs it. This means it doesn't matter about your citizenship or immigration status, nationality or level of medical insurance coverage. You still need to pay the usual fees for any other health care.

Learn more

Information about where to get tested in Auckland Auckland DHB, NZ, 04 December 2020
COVID-19 testing centres around Aotearoa Healthline, NZ, 12 August 2020
Covid-19 Education Immunisation Advisory Centre, NZ

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.