COVID-19 positive – how to quarantine (taratahi) at home

Now that there is a higher rate of vaccination in Aotearoa New Zealand, most people who are COVID-19 positive will have mild symptoms which can be easily managed at home. 95% of people who are COVID-19 positive won’t need to go to hospital.

How do I quarantine at home when I am COVID-19 positive?

If you have been told you are COVID-19 positive, or think you might be COVID-19 positive, it is important that you quarantine at home. This means you don’t leave your home and you don’t have visitors to your home. This will help stop the virus from spreading. Being in quarantine can be really hard, especially if you live with other people, or in smaller spaces. Read more about preparing for having COVID-19 in your home.

How to quarantine (taratahi) at home
Stay at home — don’t go to work, school or public places. Don’t use public transport, taxis or ride-share services.
Don’t leave home for food or medicines. If you can, arrange for these items to be delivered or ask friends or family/whanāu to shop for you. Ask them to leave deliveries outside your home. Your pharmacist may be able to arrange for medicines to be delivered to your home.
If you need medical care, talk to your healthcare team, they may be able to arrange this for you. In many cases, you will be able to receive medical care using a telehealth (phone or video) service.
Avoid contact with others in your household as much as possible. If you are unable, then keep a distance of 2 metres at all times and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. See below for advice on how to reduce the spread of infection in your home.
You should not have visitors to your home, unless they are providing necessary medical care. Healthcare workers will wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) if they need to visit you.

Everyone you live with will also need to be in quarantine. This helps to stop COVID-19 from spreading.

How to reduce the spread of infection in your home

How to reduce the spread of infection in your home
Stay in a separate room or isolated space away from others. Stay in your own room as much as possible and keep the door closed.
Keep the room well-ventilated by opening the windows to the outside to increase fresh air in your room. While it’s better to open the windows wide, even having a window opened slightly can help.
Use a separate toilet and bathroom. If that isn’t possible, use the toilet and bathroom after everyone else. Clean and disinfect surfaces you touch, such as door handles and taps. See our tips on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
Wash your hands often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If there is no soap, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with tissues. Put used tissues into a lined rubbish bin and wash or sanitise your hands afterwards.
Avoid using shared spaces, like the kitchen or dining room, at the same time as other people. Eat in a different room to other people.
Use separate personal items. This includes dishes, cups, eating utensils, hand towels and bedding. Wash these items separately using the hottest possible setting.
If you have to use a shared space with others in your household, you should wear a face mask that covers your mouth and nose and keep a distance of at least 2 metres at all times. Other members of your household should wear a mask as well. 
If you need a caregiver, identify one member of your household to help you with your daily cares. Your caregiver should have no high risk factors, or chronic health conditions, or be pregnant.

Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces

Use a disinfectant that is antiviral and follow instructions. Look for one that contains hypochlorite (which is the main active ingredient in bleach) or activated hydrogen peroxide (0.5%). Others may contain benzalkonium chloride, though some studies have shown this is less effective against coronaviruses. You could also just use conventional bleach (at 0.1–0.2% available chlorine – check the back of your bottle) in water. You can also use ethanol alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. Read more about disinfectants

Tell all close contacts they may have been exposed to COVID-19

COVID-19 can be passed on to other people up to 48 hours (2 days) before you test positive, or before any symptoms start. Letting close contacts  know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 helps to protect everyone. Close contacts are friends/whānau you have had contact with, but who do not live in the same whare/household as you. Because COVID-19 is so easily passed on to other people, your close contacts should get tested and should remain in self-isolation for 7 days (if they are fully vaccinated) or 10 days (if they are partially vaccinated or not vaccinated). 

When will I finish my quarantine?

The health team that cares for you will decide when you can leave your home and resume your everyday activities. They will need to be confident you are no longer infectious.

For people quarantining at home who are fully vaccinated this will be:

  • at least 10 days after the start of your symptoms, and
  • after you have had no symptoms for at least 72 hours (3 days).

For people quarantining at home who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated this will be:

  • at least 14 days after the start of your symptoms, and
  • after you have had no symptoms for at least 72 hours (3 days).

Financial support

If you are in quarantine, but can't work from home, your employer (or you, if you are self-employed) can apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme. The Leave Support Scheme is paid at a flat rate of: 

  • $600 a week for full-time workers who were working 20 hours or more a week
  • $359 a week for part-time workers who were working less than 20 hours a week.

For more information on the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme and to find out if you are eligible, see Who can get the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

Learn more

COVID-19 positive – care at home Health Navigator NZ
COVID-19 positive – supporting your mental wellbeing Health Navigator NZ
How to use a pulse oximeter Health Navigator NZ
Thermometers – how to use them Health Navigator NZ

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.