Where can I go to get checked/tested for COVID-19?
If you have symptoms such as a cough, a high temperature (at least 38°C), shortness of breath, a sore throat, sneezing and runny nose, or a temporary loss of smell you should call your GP or one of the community based testing centres (CBACs) in Wellington or Kāpiti, the Hutt Valley or Wairarapa. They will advise you whether you need to be tested and where you can go.
What are the options for patients requiring COVID-19 testing who can’t access a CBAC?
Call your GP or contact a CBAC in the first instance. If transport to an assessment centre is a challenge, your healthcare provider can discuss options with you, including the possibility of home-based testing if that is available.
Should everyone with flu-like symptoms be tested for COVID-19?
It is important that people discuss the need for testing with their GP or health professional. Patients need to meet the current case definition – to be swabbed or tested.
How is the test done?
(Video produced by Raukura Hauora o Tainui and presented by Dr Mataroria Lyndon via Procare Health)
How long will it take to get my results?
You will usually find out your results within 48 hours. However, some tests may take longer depending on the time of day of your test or day of the week.If your test is done on Friday afternoon you may not get your result until Tuesday for example. Swabs are collected from the various testing centres around the region and sent to one of the laboratories for analysis. If you are very unwell and need to go to hospital your test will be prioritised. Otherwise, you may be sent home and asked to self-isolate as if you had COVID-19 until your test results are available.
What if my test comes back positive?
If your test result is positive, you will be contacted as soon as possible by Regional Public Health. In conjunction with your GP or health care professional, they will advise you of the next steps to manage your care from that point – either at home or in hospital. You will be monitored until you are recovered. Even when you have recovered from COVID-19 you must still abide by the Alert Level conditions the country is under.
What if my test comes back negative?
Regardless of whether you are tested positive or negative, if you are unwell you should stay away from others, stay home, practice good cough etiquette and wash your hands often.
Be mindful of national alert levels at all times. At both Level 4 and Level 3 you need to stay home regardless of your symptoms or test results, unless you require medical care.
Will I be re-tested if I have a negative test result?
If you are well enough to be home you will not need to be re-tested.If your symptoms get worse you need to call your GP for advice. Your doctor or health professional will determine whether you need to be re-assessed.
If I have symptoms of respiratory illness, should I go to work?
No. You need to stay away from work and self-isolate. You need to be symptom free for 48 hours. Call your GP for advice.
What does being a close contact of a confirmed case mean?
If you are a close contact, you will be notified by Regional Public Health through contact tracing, or by the infected person. A close contact is someone who has had one of the following contacts with a suspected, confirmed or probably case of COVID-19 during their infectious period.
- Direct contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19
- Presence in the same room in a health care setting when an aerosol-generating procedure is undertaken on a case. Aerosol-generating procedures are things like intubation, ventilation, or any other procedure that stimulates someone to cough and produce sputum samples.
- Living in the same household or household-like setting (e.g. shared section of a hostel) with a case
- Face-to-face contact in any setting within two metres of a case for 15 minutes or more
- Having been in a closed environment (e.g. a classroom, hospital waiting room, or vehicle other than aircraft) within 2 metres of a case for 15 minutes or more
- Having been seated on an aircraft within 2 metres of a case (for economy class this would mean 2 seats in any direction including seats across the aisle, other classes would require further assessment)
- Aircraft crew exposed to a case (a risk assessment conducted by the airline is required to identify which crew should be managed as close contacts).
What does being a casual contact of a case mean?
You are unlikely to get infected from just having been in the same location as the person with the virus, for example in the same lecture theatre, gym or church. You are considered to be of low risk and do not need to go into isolation but you should stay at home if the country’s alert level requires it – for example, Alert Levels 4 and 3.
Because there is a small possibility you may become unwell you need to monitor your health closely until 14 days has passed from the time you were exposed. If you develop symptoms that may be COVID-19 phone your GP. If you have difficulty breathing, call 111. In both cases tell them you are a casual contact of a confirmed case.
How can I protect my family and others at home?
- Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues, or cough or sneeze into your elbow. Please place tissues in the rubbish bin and wash your hands thoroughly.
- Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Then dry them thoroughly. Use hand sanitiser if no soap or water is available.
- Avoid sharing household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, toothbrushes or bedding with other people in your home. After use, these items should be washed thoroughly with detergent and water. Please clean computer keyboards, desks and other surfaces regularly, especially before others use them.
- Maintain your distance (keep two metres or more away) from other people whenever possible.
- If you have been advised to stay in isolation, or it is required by national alert levels, stay in your home or accommodation, unless you are getting urgent medical care.
If I am a confirmed case, when can I come out of self-isolation?
You must stay at home (self-isolate) until advised by a health professional that you can come out of self-isolation AND the following criteria must be met:
- It is more than 10 days after the start of your symptoms (or if you were hospitalised it is more than 10 days since your discharge from hospital) AND
- You have been free from all symptoms for at least 48 hours.
Once you have come out of isolation it is important to maintain good hygiene and handwashing practices. Even once you have recovered from COVID-19, you will be required to follow the current national guidance relating to alert levels, staying home and contact with others.
Should I still get my flu jab?
Free flu jabs are available now for priority groups that are most at risk of serious health complications from influenza as well as other frontline workers as follows:
- Pregnant women.
- People aged 65 plus.
- People aged under 65 years with diabetes, most heart or lung conditions and some other illnesses.
- Children aged 4 years or under who have had a stay in hospital for measles, asthma or other breathing problems.
- Healthcare and other frontline workers, which includes emergency services, social services, police, defence, and border control but not supermarket workers.
To look after our community and make sure our health system is there for those who need it most, it’s important that these people are immunised first before the vaccine is available to the wider public. For more information, talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
What do I do if I can’t get my groceries, prescriptions or other necessities?
Visit the Wellington Regional Emergency Management Office (WREMO) website.