COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Clinically reviewed by:
Dr Mataroria Lyndon on 20.8.2023


Also known as: Mate korona

  • COVID-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It affects your lungs, airways and other organs
  • Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses that cause illnesses such as the common cold. Other recent diseases caused by coronaviruses include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Need help?

Call 111 immediately if you or someone in your household:

  • has trouble breathing, or is experiencing shortness of breath
  • has severe chest pain
  • feels faint or dizzy or becomes unconscious.

Tell them you or someone in your household has COVID-19 when you call, so the paramedics can care for you safely.


You may experience mild or no symptoms. These can include:

  • sneezing and runny nose
  • sore throat
  • body aches
  • fever
  • cough
  • feeling tired
  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea (runny poo)

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. Some symptoms are like other illnesses such as colds and flu.


If you have COVID-19 symptoms again and it has been 29 days or more since a previous infection, you should test with a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).

RAT Collection Centres are listed here

If it is positive, you should stay at home and we recommended you isolate for at least 5 days, and follow the advice for people who have COVID-19 (below).

If your test is negative:

  • your symptoms could be another illness, such as a cold or flu
  • and your symptoms continue, you should repeat a RAT 48 hours later
  • if your result is still negative, stay home until you have recovered.


Most people who become sick with COVID-19 will only have mild illness and can get better at home. Symptoms might last a few days. People who have the virus might feel better in about a week. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and includes:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Avoid running, strenuous or high impact activities and exercise until you are well.
  • Eat when you feel able to.
  • If you cannot stop vomiting or have bad diarrhoea, talk to your GP.

COVID-19 antivirals are available for eligible patients to treat COVID-19 infection.  They reduce the amount of virus in your body and may help you become less sick and stay out of hospital.

Eligible patients include:

  • Māori or Pacific people aged 50 or over
  • Everyone aged 65 or over
  • People with high risk conditions

Further information on eligibility and access to these medicines is available here

Talk to your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or health provider if you think that you, or a member of your whānau may be eligible for antiviral medicines.

The preferred COVID-19 antiviral medicine available in Aotearoa New Zealand is Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir with ritonavir). To be effective, Paxlovid must be started within 5 days of your symptoms starting.

Most people who have COVID-19 will experience a mild illness and can safely manage their own symptoms and recovery at home. Antivirals are ONLY used to treat people who are at risk of severe illness with COVID-19.

Home remedies

Everyone will have a different experience in their recovery from COVID-19. It is important that you listen to your body, take it easy and avoid any strenuous exercise until you’ve been cleared by your healthcare team.

Aches and pains – Paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with fever, headaches, and body aches.

Blocked or runny nose or cough – Nasal sprays, decongestants, lozenges or cough mixtures.

Sore throat – Suck a teaspoon of honey or gargle with salt water. Alternatively, try medicated lozenges, gargle or throat spray.

Vomiting and diarrhoea – Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Proactive protection

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone aged 5 and over. They’re also available to tamariki from 6 months who are at greater risk of severe illness if they were to get COVID-19.

Click here to book a COVID-19 vaccine.

Additional Booster Doses

Regardless of how many boosters you have had, you can get an additional booster now if you are:

  • aged 30 and over  
  • pregnant, and aged 16 or over
  • aged 12 to 29 and at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19

Find out more about boosters

Other protective measures

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Stay home and isolate if you’re sick

How do I isolate at home?

Those diagnosed with COVID-19 must isolate to prevent the spread of infection until given the all clear from a health professional. This means staying at home, living in a separate room, ensuring others do not enter your home and having groceries and other essential items delivered. This can be overwhelming. If you feel you are not coping with isolating at home please let your health provider know ASAP.

How to isolate at home
  1. Stay at home unless you need to leave to get urgent medical care, do not leave your home. If you do need to see a doctor, call ahead before attending their healthcare service, and advise them that you have COVID-19. With the Tend app you can talk directly to a GP from the comfort of your isolating space, if you require medication, arrange a loved one to get this for you.
  2. Live in a separate room away from other people in your household, if possible. Use a separate bathroom that others do not use, if you can. If you cannot isolate yourself in a separate room, avoid shared spaces in the house as much as possible and wear a mask when moving through shared areas.
  3. Do not let anyone enter your home. The people who usually live in your house with you can continue to stay in the house with you. Household contacts will no longer have to isolate for 7 days but they will need to do a daily RAT test.
  4. Have groceries and other essential items delivered to your home. Many supermarkets and food outlets offer home delivery. If your household contacts are testing negative, they are able to help you buy groceries and essentials for you. If you are having difficulty or live alone, consider phoning friends or neighbours who may be able to drop essential items at your door.
Caring for your mental wellbeing

Receiving a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 can be overwhelming and you may feel anxious. If you are feeling unwell and your mental health is getting worse, let your Tend Care Team know and we will be able to assist you.

Stay connected - Although you'll be isolated while you have COVID-19, try stay in touch with the people you care about over the phone or online.

Minimise news feeds - Try reduce how much you watch, read or listen to the news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. Instead, read your favourite book or listen to an interesting podcast.

Avoid alcohol and drug use - Avoid using alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and loneliness or social isolation. Try learning a new skill or starting a creative project to help cure some of your quarantine boredom.

Accept the situation - You should understand that you have a viral infection and your body is fighting it. You may feel unwell, but you will recover. You may have days when you feel great, and other days where you don’t. Accepting that this is normal is important for your overall recovery and mental wellbeing.

Adjust your physical space - Adjust your environment so that it makes you feel good and supports your body to recover!  Something as simple as taking a cold shower, changing your bed linen, letting fresh air into your room or wearing your favourite slippers can be comforting.

Rest and hydrate - Getting enough sleep and drinking enough water helps your body to fight the virus. Try going to bed at a reasonable time and having a bottle of water always at the ready!

Gentle exercise - Doing gentle exercise such as arm raises, sitting and standing or marching is not only good for your physical health but also your mental wellbeing. Try set time aside each day to move your body.

Try to stick to your normal routine - Sticking to your usual routine in a safe way as much as possible will make going back to normal easier.  For example, set yourself regular mealtimes and sleeping schedules.

If you, or someone you know, requires emergency care for any issues related to mental health, please contact your local Crisis Assessment Teamthrough the Ministry of Health.

Should I see a doctor?

Most people who get COVID-19 should be able to manage their symptoms safely at home. It is important to keep an eye on symptoms, particularly if they seem to be getting worse, and get help straight away if needed.

Call 111 immediately if you or someone in your household:

  • has trouble breathing, or is experiencing shortness of breath
  • has severe chest pain
  • feels faint or dizzy or becomes unconscious.

Tell them you or someone in your household has COVID-19 when you call, so the paramedics can care for you safely.

What are Tend's COVID-19 in-clinic precautions?

Those who book an in-clinic appointment will be contacted prior to your appointment to run through some screening questions for respiratory symptoms: runny nose, sore throat, cough or fever.

Patients with no respiratory symptoms:

Medical masks will remain available to patients in clinic waiting rooms, reception areas, and in clinic rooms. However, if you have no respiratory symptoms then wearing a mask is optional.

Patients with respiratory symptoms

You'll be asked to wear a mask upon arrival if you have respiratory symptoms.