Do I need to get tested (swabbed) for COVID-19?

If you have cold or flu symptoms, call your doctor, iwi health provider or Healthline 0800 358 5453. They will let you know if you should have a COVID-19 test. Testing is an important part of our COVID-19 strategy.

Who should get tested?

Currently, we have community transmission of COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand. This means that testing is an even more important part of our COVID-19 strategy.

If you're sick, get tested. If you are offered a test, say yes.

Call Healthline (0800 358 5453) or your doctor, or visit a testing station to get a test if you:

  • develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • are connected to a COVID-19 case or to the sites where there have been cases
  • are a contact of someone who has had close contact with a case. 

This advice applies right across Aotearoa New Zealand. If you are asked to have a COVID-19 test, please do so. It's part of how you can keep your whānau and community safe.

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?

Symptoms consistent with COVID-19 include:

  • new or worsening cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • head cold
  • loss of smell
  • fever.

However, some people may only have these symptoms: 

  • fever
  • diarrhoea (runny poos)
  • headache
  • myalgia (muscle aches and pains)
  • nausea/vomiting or confusion/irritability.

If you have any of the symptoms above, contact your doctor or the Healthline dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 to see if you need to have a test. 

Who is in the high-risk group for COVID-19?

Even if you don't have symptoms, if you are at high risk of COVID-19, please also get a test. The high-risk group includes anyone who has recently:

  • had contact with a confirmed or probable case
  • had international travel
  • had direct contact with a person who has travelled overseas (eg, Customs and Immigration staff, staff at quarantine/isolation facilities)
  • worked on an international aircraft or shipping vessel
  • cleaned at an international airport or maritime port in areas/conveniences visited by international arrivals, or
  • any other criteria requested by the local Medical Officer of Health.

Read more about the COVID-19 case definition Ministry of Health, NZ

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. 

If you are concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing, please call your GP, or Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs). 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, 12 August 2020
COVID-19 testing centres around Aotearoa Healthline, NZ, 12 August 2020

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.