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COVID-19 isolation and quarantine

5-minute read

If you develop severe symptoms such as severe shortness of breath or chest pain, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival if you have COVID-19.

How do I isolate?

If you’re isolating, you must stay at home or in your accommodation. You shouldn’t have any visitors.

If you’re a confirmed COVID-19 case or a close contact you will need to isolate and follow the rules of the state or territory you’re staying in.

While you’re isolating, don’t go to public places or places where you might have contact with other people, such as work, school, childcare, university or public gatherings.

You can only leave home in an emergency or to obtain essential medical care. Someone can only enter your home in an emergency, if they provide you with medical care, or if they live with you and can’t live anywhere else.

When travelling home or to your accommodation to start isolation, use personal transport, such as a car, if you can. This will minimise your exposure to others.

Only people who usually live with you should be in the same accommodation. But you must isolate from them as well, if practical.

How long do I need to isolate after testing positive to COVID-19?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must stay at home or in your accommodation. This is usually at least 7 days from the day you had your COVID-19 test.

The Australian Government has rules for what you need to do if you have COVID-19. However, states and territories may have different isolation and testing rules in place. Check their website for more information.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the COVID-19 Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

If the Symptom Checker tells you to contact your GP, make sure you call your doctor to describe your symptoms and contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. You can also attend a COVID-19 clinic in your area.

Learn more about managing mild to moderate COVID-19 at home.

How long do I need to isolate if I’m a close contact?

If you are a close contact of someone who’s a confirmed case of COVID-19, it’s most likely you will need to quarantine for a period of time. This is usually 7 days since you last had contact with the person who has COVID-19.

The Australian Government has rules for what you need to do if you are a close contact. However, states and territories may have different isolation and testing rules. Check their website for more information.

How do I look after my mental wellbeing in isolation?

Being in isolation is an unfamiliar experience for most people, and it can be challenging.

Learn more about how to maintain your wellbeing and what support services are available.

Can I return to work in a high-risk setting?

People returning to a high-risk setting can end their isolation based on the same guidelines as other confirmed cases. However, some states and territories may allow healthcare workers to leave self-isolation earlier than the general public to be able to attend their workplace. Check their website for more information.

All recovered cases should continue to follow community guidelines, such as physical distancing, hand hygiene and wearing a mask. Healthcare workers should continue to use the appropriate PPE as recommended when caring for COVID-19 patients, or in settings where there’s potential exposure.

I’m worried about people who return to work or school or go out in public after isolation.

People can return to daily activities, if they have completed the required isolation period and they have not shown any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 during this time.

Will people who return to work or school after isolation need any documentation?

Medical clearance or documentation is not needed for people who return to work after their required period of isolation, provided they showed no symptoms or signs of being unwell while in isolation.

Workplaces are encouraged to accept leave requests, without needing medical clearance, for employees who need to self-isolate and who have not experienced any signs or symptoms.

Looking for more information?

Visit healthdirect's COVID-19 information hub for more answers to questions about the coronavirus, including vaccinations and restrictions.

Resources in other languages

COVID-19 resources in other languages are available from the Department of Health, as well as from the ACT, NSW, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic and WA health departments.

Information is also available in Aboriginal languages (NT).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2022


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