Skip to main content Skip to top level navigation Skip to footer
Greater Wellington
COVID-19 Hub

Managing your symptoms

For many people COVID-19 will feel like a mild to heavy cold. While there is no specific treatment for COVID-19, there are things you can do to help with the symptoms.

Here's some handy tools you can download:

  • Managing your symptoms tip sheet
  • Health diary to keep track of your symptoms. This can help alert you if they are changing.
  • Instructions on how to use a pulse oximeter. Not everyone one will be provided with one of these, but for those who have one, it's important to use it effectively.


Give your body time to heal. Don't try to do too much.

For fever, headaches and body aches: Use paracetamol or ibuprofen. Make sure you follow the directions on the pack so you don't take too much and cause other problems.

  • Make sure the room temperature is comfortable (not too hot or too cold).
  • If possible, open a window for fresh air but avoid draughts.
  • Wear lightweight clothing and use lighter bedding.
  • Use a cool cloth to wash your face, hands and neck.
  • Change bed linen and clothing regularly, especially if they are wet from sweat. 
  • Do not use hot water bottles or electric blankets.

For a blocked or runny nose: Steam inhalation can help reduce congestion and honey can help ease a cough.

For a cough: It's best to avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright instead. 

You may find sucking honey or sipping a hot drink helps ease your cough. It can also help to sooth the scratchiness in the back of your throat.

Over the counter medications such as cough medicines may give you some relief. There is little evidence to suggest that cough medicine is any more effective than simple home remedies and they're not suitable for everyone. If you are unsure talk to your pharmacist.

Sore throat: Suck a teaspoon of honey or gargle with warm salted water. You can also try using a gargle, throat spray or lozenges that include pain relief.

If you're vomiting (being sick) or have diarrhoea (runny poo): It's important to drink plenty of fluids. Water is recommended.

Check out these resources for even more advice - data-free!

If at any time you or a family member has difficulty breathing, feels seriously unwell or unsafe call 111 immediately and tell them you have COVID-19.


COVID-19 medicines

Antiviral medicine is available for people most at risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19.

These medicines can drastically reduce the severity of symptoms and help you recover faster, but they need to be taken soon after symptoms develop.

There are specific criteria in place to access these medicines and, at this stage, you will need to be assessed by your doctor and given a prescription. If your doctor identifies you as being eligible for COVID-19 medicines, they can issue you a prescription in advance so you can access the medicine more quickly should you test positive and get sick with COVID-19. Please note, that you can only fill this prescription once you have tested positive and have symptoms.

If you’re older, not up-to-date with vaccinations or at high risk for other reasons, phone your GP, community pharmacy or local healthcare provider to find out whether you’re eligible for this medicine. It must be taken soon after you get symptoms.

Please phone your pharmacist, registered nurse or GP either immediately after you test positive or develop symptoms to see if the medicines are right for you.

When you have COVID-19, you must self-isolate for at least seven days and cannot leave your home. If you are eligible for medicines, arrange to have them delivered by friends or whānau, or order online from a pharmacy.

Find out more about getting COVID-19 therapeutic medicine from your doctor or a pharmacist

Find out more about COVID-19 therapeutics and the eligibility criteria.

When to seek help

Prepare your household for isolation

Find out what you can do to prepare your whare and whanau for isolating.

Looking after a child with COVID-19

Tips on how to look after your tamariki who has COVID-19.

Getting support when you are isolating

Find out how you can make sure you get the support you and your whanau need to make isolating safer and less stressful.

Making your breathing easier

COVID-19 often causes problems with breathing and you might feel breathless. It has been found that lying in different positions can help.

Lying on your back can make it harder to breathe. Changing your position regularly (every 30 minutes to 2 hours) helps to move the air through all of your lungs. Try lying on your tummy, both sides, and sitting upright.  

Change position every 30 minutes to 2 hours, rotating as below.

This handy video shows you how to assess your breathing rate


Get some more tips and advice here - *data free*

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

Feeling low or down about restrictions on our normal lives is also a normal response. That means it’s more important than ever to know the key steps to managing your mental health.

It’s understandable to feel sad, distressed, worried, confused, anxious or angry if you have the COVID-19 virus and are unwell. Everyone reacts differently and some may find this time more challenging than others.


Stay connected

Even if you're isolating, you can still reach out to your usual supports – whānau, friends and workmates – over the phone or online. Staying in touch more often with the people you care about, making sure they’re doing okay, will help you too.

Breathe and be present

Knowing how to use your breathe to calm your nervous system is a key tool in your wellbeing kit. Taking a long, slow breathe in, holding it for a few seconds and then slowly, slowly breathing out really makes a difference. Try out the breathing exercises at Hikitia Te Hā All Right?

Reach out 

If you are feeling unwell and your mental health is getting worse while you're isolating, let your local support team know. They will be able to assist you.

You can also contact other services you may need such as the following:

  • Call 1737 – Freephone or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor for support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing. This service is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Lifeline – Freephone 0800 543 354 or text HELP (4357) to talk to a counsellor or trained volunteers.
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline – Freephone 0800 787 797 or free text 8681 or online chat at for support with alcohol or other drug problems.
  • OUTLine NZ – Freephone 0800 688 5463 for confidential, free LGBTIQ+ support from a trained volunteer. This service is available from 6–9pm every evening.

Minimise news feeds

Try to reduce how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. Seek the latest information at specific times of the day, once or twice a day if needed. Be aware of how much time you spend in front of a screen every day. Make sure that you take regular breaks from on-screen activities.

Avoid alcohol and drug use

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don’t drink alcohol at all. Don’t start drinking alcohol if you have not drunk alcohol before. Avoid using alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and loneliness or social isolation.

Find the lighter moments

Even in times like this, there are still moments that can uplift us. Make a point of finding something beautiful in nature each day in your garden, or out your window. And listen to music.

Accept the situation

COVID-19 is a viral infection and your body is fighting it. Everyone will feel different in their recovery – some people may recover in days, some in weeks, while for a few it could be months. Some things are out of your hands – and in this case, you can’t do much about the existence of COVID-19. But there are things you can do: stay at home, stay away from others and save lives, wash your hands often and cough or sneeze into your sleeve so you don't spread the virus (or other bugs).

There's a lot more information here - and data free!