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How to isolate with COVID-19

6-minute read

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

Quick read and other languages

The dos and don’ts of isolation and recovering from COVID-19 safely at home. Also available in 15 languages.

How do I isolate when I have COVID-19?

Isolation means staying at your home or accommodation and remaining separated from others. Isolation is no longer mandatory for cases and suspected cases of COVID-19, however it is strongly recommended that you stay at home.

If you have COVID-19, you should not go out in public. This means you should not go to work, school, childcare or university, not travel on public transport, taxis and ride-share vehicles and not attend gatherings or any crowded indoor spaces.

You should also continue to attend any routine medical appointments, tests or procedures that you normally have — you should tell your healthcare provider before attending that you have COVID-19.

You might be able to arrange a telehealth appointment in some cases.

You should separate yourself from the members of your household as much as possible. This includes staying in a separate, well-ventilated room, sleeping alone and using a separate bathroom if one is available.

If you cannot isolate in a separate room, avoid shared spaces, such as the kitchen, as much as possible. Do not share household items and wash these items thoroughly after using them.

Wear a mask when moving through shared areas. Wipe down any surfaces you touch.

If your symptoms worsen or you’re concerned, contact your doctor. If your symptoms become severe, call triple zero (000), or go to a hospital emergency department.

What if I live in an apartment building?

If you are isolating in an apartment building, take extra steps to protect other building residents from COVID-19.

  • Stay inside your own unit. Do not use any shared or common facilities, such as the laundry room, gym, pool or outdoor areas.
  • Wash your clothes inside your own unit.
  • Ask a neighbour or contact your building manager about collecting your rubbish and leave the rubbish outside your door.
  • If you have a delivery, including a food delivery, to your home, ask for it to be left outside your door. Do not open the door to collect the delivery until the corridor is empty.

How long do I need to isolate?

To reduce the risk to others, you should stay at home until your acute symptoms have gone. Acute symptoms include a fever, sore throat, runny nose and cough. Learn about the COVID-19 infectious period here.

You should isolate at the place you are staying. This may be your home, a hotel, motel or other form of accommodation. You should separate yourself from other people by staying in your room.

If you must leave home, wear a face mask and keep your distance from others.

Do not visit people at high risk of severe illness or anyone in hospital or at an aged-care centre or disability-care centre for at least 7 days and until your symptoms resolve. If you work in a high-risk place, you may have to stay away from your workplace for longer.

Check your state or territory government website for more guidance on what to do if you have COVID-19.

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

How do I access essential supplies?

If you are isolating at home, there are many support options and services available to ensure you have enough food and other essential supplies.

If you do not have family, friends or neighbours to get you essential supplies, consider buying groceries online or contacting your state or territory government for assistance.

How do I look after my mental wellbeing in isolation?

Being in isolation can be challenging.

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

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

Last reviewed: June 2023

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