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Greater Wellington
COVID-19 Hub

With information and the rules changing all the time, it can be hard to keep up. Here we have pulled together the most common questions we have been getting from you with what are hopefully clear answers.

We will continue to add to this list as we get more questions. If you have a question that you want answered you can:

Don’t forget to keep looking after yourself and each other. We will get through this together.

Isolation

Under the current rules, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or lives with someone with COVID-19 has to isolate for 7 full days.

Anyone who has COVID-19 needs to be symptom-free to end isolation. If you get to day 7 and still have symptoms, stay home until 24 hours after your symptoms have gone. If your symptoms worsen or last beyond 7 days, contact your GP or health provider for advice.

During that time, household contacts need to test on days 3 and 7. If they test negative and are symptom-free they can stop isolating after 7 days.

Find out more

No. As long as you have no symptoms you can stop isolating after 7 full days and return to life and work as normal.

If you still have symptoms, it's best if you stay home until 24 hours after your symptoms have gone away.

Your employer may have put in place a company policy requiring a negative test to return to the workplace and if this is the case they must arrange for the supply of tests and continue paying you. There is more information and FAQs around work and COVID-19 here.

It is still possible to be infectious once your 7 days of isolation have finished, especially in the period between 7 and 10 days after your symptoms first started. Therefore if you still have symptoms and don't feel well after your isolation period, it's recommended you stay home as much as possible while they resolve.

If you continue to have symptoms past day 10 it is worth getting further advice to check that there isn't another reason for your symptoms such as a bad cold, the flu or another influenza-like illness. Call your doctor or health provider.

You don't need to test again to finish isolation, however, if you do take a test on day 7 and it's negative, it's unlikely you are still infectious. However, if you do not feel well it is best not to push things too hard, and to be careful about where you go in order to protect other people, especially those who are more vulnerable to bugs and illnesses. 

The day you test positive or start having symptoms - whichever comes first - is day 0 of your isolation timeline and the timeline for the people you live with. This means that as long as you meet the requirements you can stop isolating on day 8. This handy calculator can help you figure it out.

Anyone who tests positive or lives with someone with COVID-19 needs to isolate for 7 full days. Day 0 is the day your symptoms started or you tested positive, whichever comes first.

If you receive a text telling you your isolation period has ended and it has not been 7 full days, please ignore it as it may have been sent in error. Continue isolating until day 8.

This calculator tool on this page is a handy way to figure out when your isolation period should finish: https://covid19.govt.nz/isolation-and-care/if-you-have-covid-19/

You can exercise outdoors in your neighbourhood (but not at a swimming pool or a gym). You must physically distance from other people, but you do not need to wear a mask unless you would feel safer to do so.

If you tested positive for COVID-19 you don’t need a negative RAT at the end of 7 days in order to return to work and life as normal. Although if you still have symptoms you’re best to stay home and look after yourself until you’re feeling better.

Your employer may have put in place a company policy that you need to test negative to return to work, however, if this is the case they must arrange for the supply of tests and continue paying you. There is more information and FAQs around work and COVID-19 here.

If you live with someone who has COVID-19, then you need to have negative tests on days 3 and 7 of your isolation period and be symptom-free to finish isolating.

If you're a household contact and you test positive on day 7 of your isolation, your clock resets and you will need to isolate an additional full 7 days.

If you tested positive originally, you can return to work as normal as long as you are symptom-free after 7 full days of isolation. You do not need to test negative to do this.

If you still have symptoms, especially if they are new or worsening, you need to continue isolating. It's best to isolate until 24 hours after your symptoms get better. If your symptoms last beyond 7 days or worsen significantly, contact your GP or health provider for further advice.

If you tested positive originally, you can leave isolation as long as you are symptom-free after 7 full days of isolation. You do not need to test negative to do this and it does not matter if someone else in the household tests positive after you.

If someone else in your household tests positive after you, they will need to isolate for 7 days from their test date or when they first got symptoms, whichever came first. This does not affect other people in the household who continue to test negative.

If you are all already isolating and someone else tests positive, it does not affect your isolation timeline. The person who originally tested positive can stop isolating on day 8 as long as they have no symptoms. As long as the other household contacts test negative and have no symptoms they can finish isolation, but should stay vigilant and test if symptoms appear.

The person who tested positive on day 7 must isolate for a further 7 days.

If a household member tests positive on day 8, the other people in the household who tested negative on day 7 can still stop isolating but should stay vigilant for symptoms. This applies for up to 10 days after you finished isolating and is because it is seen as being part of the same 'exposure event'. 

However, if a household member tests positive more than 10 days after you have finished isolating, then the rest of the household (apart from anyone who has had COVID-19 within the past 90 days) must isolate again for the full 7 days. This is because it is likely they were exposed somewhere else.

Take a look at this flowchart.

If someone in your household tests positive and it has been less than 3 months since you had COVID-19 then you do not need to isolate again. Anyone in your household who has not already had COVID-19 will need to isolate for the full 7 days and test on days 3 and 7.

Even if you've had COVID-19 you need to keep an eye out for new symptoms. If they develop at least 28 days after your initial positive result then you need to take another test. If you get a positive result, you likely have a new infection and must isolate again for 7 full days.

Take a look at this flowchart.

Testing

Rapid antigen tests are now the main way of finding out if you have COVID-19. They can be picked up for free at a number of community collection points across the region, or bought from a number of places such as supermarkets and pharmacies.

Anyone who has symptoms should stay home and take a test, and if you living with someone who has tested positive then you should be testing on days 3 and 7.

PCR tests are still available for people in certain situations, check with Healthline or a health professional if you think you need to get a PCR test.

You still need to isolate for 7 full days. If you can drive home without having to stay anywhere overnight, you can return there to self-isolate. Make as few stops as possible, wear a mask and keep distance from others as much as possible. Do not go to the supermarket. Instead ask friends or family who are not isolating if they can pick up anything you need.

If you are self-isolating in your home, anyone you live with must also self-isolate for 7 full days and test on day 3 and day 7. This is regardless of whether they were on holiday with you or not.

Anyone who was on holiday with you should test. If they are negative and have no symptoms they do not need to self-isolate, but should remain vigilant for symptoms and test if symptoms emerge.

If the people you are on holiday with normally live with you and are returning with you to your home, they will also have to self-isolate for 7 full days. They should test on day 3 and day 7, or if they get symptoms.

If the people you are on holiday with do not normally live with you, they should take a test. If they test negative and have no symptoms, they do not have to isolate but should remain vigilant for symptoms. If any symptoms develop, they should take a test and stay home or in their accommodation.

The best way to report your RAT result is on My COVID Record.

If you can't access online reporting, call 0800 222 478. Make sure you listen carefully to the pre-recorded message and follow the prompts to help you record the result. 

If you are having trouble getting through on the 0800 number please continue trying. In the meantime, if you need extra support you can still contact the national COVID-19 Welfare line on 0800 512 337, and continue trying to report your RAT result.

Remember, your 7 full days of isolation start from when you first had symptoms or tested positive, whichever came first. This applies regardless of when you manage to report the result and the health form gives you an opportunity to include details of this.

In the first instance contact 0800 222 478 again to make sure it’s been added into the system correctly.

If you are isolating and need extra support you can still request it via the online form or by calling 0800 512 337. Your 7 days of isolation still starts from the day you tested positive or when your symptoms started – whichever came first.

People can test positive at any stage after exposure, which is why it's important to take a rapid antigen test at any time you get symptoms.

If you have been isolating with someone who has COVID-19 keep an especially close eye on how you’re feeling up to at least day 10.

It's best if you can get a family member or friend who is not isolating and does not live with you to pick RATs up on your behalf. However, if needed you can still go to pick up RATs from a public collection site, with the usual precautions of masks and distancing. Ideally just one person, who has no symptoms, should pick up RATs for your whole household.

You can order RATs online or by calling 0800 222 478 before going to pick them up at your closest collection point. Check Healthpoint for the latest locations and opening hours.

You should receive enough tests for each household member who has not already tested positive to test on days 3 and 7.

Even if you've already had COVID-19 you should stay vigilant for new symptoms and take a rapid antigen test if you get new symptoms. Regardless of the result, it’s best if you stay home and get better, especially if you can work from home.

If you test positive again at least 29 days after your original infection then you will need to isolate for the full 7 days. Some of your household may also need to isolate again.

  • Anyone who has had COVID-19 within the past 3 months does not need to isolate with you.
  • Anyone who finished isolating less than 10 days previously does not need to isolate with you.
  • Anyone else in the household will need to isolate with you for 7 full days and test on days 3 and 7.

Do not get a PCR test as this can show a positive result for up to 3 months after your original infection and does not mean that you are necessarily infectious again. A RAT is better at showing if you have a higher viral load and are therefore are more infectious. This is why you will need to isolate again.

If you have symptoms but your RAT is negative, stay home and take another test 48 hours later. If it still comes back negative and your symptoms worsen, contact your GP or health provider for further advice as you may have a bad cold, the flu or another influenza-like illness. They may recommend you get a PCR test to be sure.

It is possible for someone with COVID-19 to get a negative RAT result. This can be because there was not enough virus in the sample, or because the test was not carried out correctly.

There is no age cut off for using rapid antigen tests on children, however, it can be difficult to get a good sample from very young children.

Here are our suggestions if you child is under 2 years of age is showing symptoms:

  • If there are any older people in the household who are symptomatic, test them instead. If the infant has symptoms you can assume they also have COVID-19.
  • If your infant is the only one in the household with symptoms, and you feel you can safely follow the instructions to get a nasal swab, then it's safe to use it on infants.
  • For very young infants (younger than 6 months old), it's best to get a health professional to do the test.

PCR are more sensitive than rapid antigen tests but the results can take up to 48 hours to come through.

Free PCR tests are still available in certain situations. This includes for people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and therefore need to have certainty around whether they have the virus as early in their infection as possible. It also includes recent arrivals who return a positive RAT.

A health professional can advise you on the right test to take in your situation.

RATs are available free from a number of sites across the Capital, Coast and Hutt Valley district.

  • You no longer need to have COVID-19 symptoms or be a household contact to collect free RATs.
  • Make sure you order online first, only order what you need, and remember that our larger community collection sites have the most stock on site.
  • Not all our sites are distributing free medical masks with RATs. Check individual site Healthpoint listings first if you wish to receive free medical masks. Please bear with us as we work to increase the supplies of masks at participating collection sites.
  • At this stage free N95 and P2 masks are not available at our collection sites. However, we are working to get stock to collection sites that offer masks.

In some circumstances you will need to have a supervised RAT.

You need to pay for any tests required for international travel and you need to have them done at certain places. Find out where your closest clinic is here

Symptoms and recovery

Everyone has a different experience of COVID-19, but there are specific symptoms to look out for and good advice for recovering.

Everyone has a different experience of COVID-19. Some will recover in a few days, others will take weeks or months to be back to normal. If you are still having symptoms after you have finished your isolation period, this is completely normal - it is likely your body's natural response to fighting a viral infection. It does not necessarily mean you have long COVID-19.

It's important to give you body time to heal. Stay home. Don't try to do too much. Rest. Take a look at these tips on recovery and information on long COVID.

If you symptoms get worse call your GP, iwi health provider or Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

If you or a family member becomes very unwell, has difficulty breathing or feels unsafe, immediately call 111.

Everyone has a different experience with COVID-19, including what symptoms they report at different stages of the infection.

While the most common symptoms tend to be a fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat, there have been reports of nausea and vomiting, especially in young children, shortness of breath, joint pain, diarrhoea, and headaches.

If someone in your household or who you have had extended contact with has COVID-19, even the mildest or unusual symptoms could indicate that you have the virus. It’s important you listen to your body and take any illness seriously. Take a test if you feel unwell.

Take a look at these tips on managing your symptoms.

Getting COVID-19 will give you some short-term protection against re-infection, however, there is no set period of time where you are fully protected and some new variants are proving effective at side-stepping any natural immunity. We are already seeing a number of people in the greater Wellington region who are testing positive a few months after their original infection.

Vaccination, however, is proving to go some way towards protecting people from getting infected with a different sub-variant of Omicron.

Even if you’ve already had COVID-19, it’s important to follow established public health measures such as masks, washing your hands well and often and keeping your distance from people you don’t know. Not only will this help protect you against getting re-infected, it can also help protect you against other winter illnesses such as the flu.

If you aren’t up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination, you can also get your next dose three months after you tested positive and this will help strengthen and lengthen your protection.

Most people recover completely from COVID-19 and return to normal health.

The virus first emerged at the end of 2019. There is still limited knowledge on the potential long-term health outcomes of having been infected by COVID-19. This is now an important area of international scientific research.

Long COVID is a term used to describe COVID-19 symptoms which continue for longer than four weeks after the initial infection. Ongoing symptoms can vary. Fatigue and the ability to concentrate are commonly reported. Check with your doctor before assuming your symptoms are due to COVID-19.

Take a look at this tip sheet on long COVID-19 or head to Health Navigator for more detailed information.

Vaccination

Getting vaccinated is still one our best protections against catching or getting sick with COVID-19. 

Vaccination is available at sites and clinics across the region. Find out more about getting vaccinated, the types of vaccine available and accurate information.

  • Anyone aged 12 and over is eligible for two doses at least 3 weeks apart.
  • Anyone aged 5-11 is eligible for two doses at least 8 weeks apart.
  • Anyone aged 18 and over is eligible for a booster dose at least 3 months after their second dose.
  • Anyone aged 16 or 17 is eligible for a booster dose at least 6 months after their second dose.
  • Anyone who has had COVID-19 before they were vaccinated should wait 3 months after they tested positive before getting their next dose.
  • If you are immunocompromised there are different recommendations in place

A second COVID-19 booster is now available for:

  • everyone over the age of 50 and recommended for anyone over the age of 65
  • Māori and Pacific Peoples older than 50
  • people who are severely immunocompromised
  • health, aged-care and disability workers over the age of 30

Other people recommended to receive a second booster as a priority:

  • people aged 16 years and over who have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe breakthrough COVID-19 illness and
  • people aged 16 years and over who live with disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities.

You can book or walk in depending on availability. Find your closest clinic.

Getting COVID-19 only gives you short-term immunity against the virus and you can get it again. Getting vaccinated, or finishing the vaccination course by getting your booster if you're eligible, will result in a broader immune response, which is likely to give you better protection against getting COVID-19 again and passing it on.

Being vaccinated also reduces the chances of you becoming very ill and ending up in the hospital and can help protect you against new variants of COVID-19. Individuals who have been infected but not vaccinated are more likely to be re-infected than those who have been vaccinated (with at least 2 doses).

Yes! And it’s really important you do as it will help protect you from getting COVID-19 again and passing it on.  It also reduces the chances of you becoming very ill and ending up in the hospital.  However, for maximum immunity you should wait 3 months after you tested positive before getting vaccinated.

The best timing for your next vaccination can vary, so talk to your doctor, health provider or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 first.  It is also free to discuss COVID-19 vaccination with your GP.

It's recommended you wait 3 months to get vaccinated, or finish your course, after getting COVID-19 to maximise immunity. The recommendation applies to all ages and COVID-19 vaccinations in New Zealand. 

Waiting for 3 months after you test positive for COVID-19 can give you better protection and an increased immune response to the vaccine.  

However, If you are at high risk of severe disease if you catch COVID-19 again, it’s recommended that you talk to your GP or other specialist for advice on timing of your next dose. It might be appropriate for you to receive your COVID-19 vaccine sooner than 3 months.  

The best timing for your next vaccination can vary, so talk to your doctor, health provider or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 first.

The vaccine will still provide a boosting effect whenever it is given. However, if your antibody responses are still high from a recent infection, the relative benefit from a booster dose may be lower than if you wait for 3 months.  It is recommended at 3 months because we know by then that your own antibodies are starting to drop again.

From a safety and effectiveness perspective, vaccinating earlier than three months after an infection is not a problem. It won’t be more likely to cause side effects if given earlier. The main reason why it’s not recommended to get vaccinated too close to the date of infection is due to the issues of distinguishing between side effects and ongoing infection symptoms.

Unless you have evidence of a COVID-19 infection via a RAT or PCR result then go ahead with vaccination at the scheduled time.

If you didn’t have symptoms of COVID and haven’t had a positive RAT or PCR: Follow the usual scheduled times for the next dose(s) of vaccine

If you had cold-like symptoms but weren’t tested and no one else in the family was COVID-19 positive around the time of your symptoms: Follow the usual scheduled times for the next dose(s) of vaccine

If you had a positive RAT or PCR, or everyone else in the family had confirmed COVID-19 (even if they weren’t tested themselves): It’s okay to delay the vaccination and follow the guidance on when to get the next dose (3 months after testing positive)

If your antibody responses are still high from a recent infection, the relative benefit from a booster dose may be lower than if you wait for 3 months.  It is recommended at 3 months because we know by then that your own antibodies are starting to drop again.

If you're considered to be at high risk of severe disease from getting COVID-19 again, then it may be appropriate to get vaccinated earlier than 3 months after your positive test. However, the recommended timeframe should only be shortened for anyone aged 5 to 17 years in exceptional circumstances. This is because they have a good immune response to vaccines and there is less data on vaccination after infections when it comes to children and adolescents.

You're best to talk to your GP or other specialist for advice on timing of your next dose.

You can have a flu vaccine at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccine or booster. There’s no need to leave a gap between these vaccines.  

You will need to check the vaccination site (your GP, primary care provider, pharmacy or vaccination clinic) can administer both vaccines.

If you’ve recently had COVID-19, you can have a flu vaccine as soon as you’ve recovered. However you need to wait 3 months after you test positive for COVID-19, before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Flu immunisation is recommended and FREE for those likely to get very sick, go to hospital or die from the Flu:

  • Pregnant women
  • Māori or Pasifika aged 55 years or over
  • People aged 65 years or older;
  • People under 65 years with diabetes, most heart or lung conditions and some other illness
  • Children aged 4 years or under who have had a stay in hospital for asthma or other breathing problems

For more information on the Flu Vaccine visit Ministry of Health Website

If you're aged 16 or 17, you can get a COVID-19 booster of the Pfizer vaccine, 6 months after completing their primary course, from any walk-in vaccination site.

Bookings can be made through Book My Vaccine

A booster dose is especially recommended for 16 and 17-year-olds who are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. This includes those who are immunocompromised (or living with a family member who is immunocompromised) and Māori and Pacific rangatahi.

You can check when you are due for a booster by visiting mycovidrecord.nz or referring to your purple vaccination card, if you have one.

If your second dose was six months ago you can get your booster by:

  • Finding a walk-in vaccination centre. Visit Healthpoint to find a clinic near you
  • Booking an appointment on BookMyVaccine.nz
  • Booking for yourself or make a whānau booking (group bookings for more than one person) by calling the COVID Vaccination Healthline 0800 28 29 26 (8am - 8pm, 7 days a week)
  •  If you’ve had COVID-19, you should wait at least 3 months after you tested positive before you receive a COVID-19 vaccine

For more information on Booster vaccinations visit COVID19.govt.nz

Tamariki aged 5 to 11 who are severely immunocompromised can now receive a third primary dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. A prescription must be provided by a GP or nurse practitioner.

It’s recommended that parents or guardians schedule an appointment with their usual health care professional who has access to the child’s medical records. This will help confirm whether the child qualifies for a third primary dose.

You can find more information here: www.health.govt.nz/tamariki

Second COVID-19 Booster

A second booster is recommended for those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 – a minimum of 6 months after a first booster.

A second COVID-19 booster is available for:

  • everyone over the age of 50 and recommended for anyone over the age of 65
  • Māori and Pacific Peoples older than 50
  • people who are severely immunocompromised
  • health, aged-care and disability workers over the age of 30

Other people recommended to receive a second booster as a priority

    • people aged 16 years and over who have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe breakthrough COVID-19 illness and
    • people aged 16 years and over who live with disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities.

    See Clinical criteria in support of second booster eligibility

    Read more here about second boosters on the government website 

    How to Book

    Find a vaccination centre including walk-in clinics near you at Healthpoint. From 28 June you can book through Book My Vaccine. or call the COVID Vaccination Healthline on 0800 28 29 26 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week)

    For maximum immunity, if you’ve had COVID-19, you need to wait 3 months after you tested positive before having a COVID-19 vaccination.