COVID-19 positive: How to isolate (taratahi) at home

Most people who are COVID-19 positive will have mild symptoms that can be easily managed at home.

Note: You might hear different ways to describe isolation like 'self-isolation', 'home quarantine' or 'home isolation'. They all mean isolating away from other members of your household (eg, have no physical contact, minimise time in shared spaces and do not share items such as cutlery and linen), while you remain in your own home.

How do I isolate 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 isolate 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 isolation 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.

(Health Navigator NZ, 2022)
View transcript.

How to isolate (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 live alone, 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.
You can leave your home to get some exercise, but not at a swimming pool or a gym. You don't have to wear a mask but make sure you keep your distance from other people.

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. If you have a sleepout or bach, it's a good idea to use that.
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%). 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, and Ministry of Health advice on how to clean and disinfect your home or business when somebody has COVID-19.   

When will I finish my isolation?

You can resume your normal life after day 7 as long as you are feeling well. If you have been unwell with COVID, make sure you take it easy when returning to physical activity as you may be more tired than usual.

Financial support

If you are in isolation, but can't work from home, your employer (or you, if you are self-employed) can apply for the COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme.

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
Information for people with COVID-19 who are self-isolating in apartments, temporary or holiday accommodation Ministry of Health, NZ
Home quarantine advice for people who have tested positive and their household members Whānau HQ, NZ
Living with COVID-19 Mental Health Foundation, NZ
How to self-isolate Unite Against COVID-19, NZ

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.