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Vaccinations provide good protection against COVID-19 and mean that most people will be able to recover from their illness at home.

Managing COVID-19 at home when you have milder symptoms is safe and appropriate, and ensures hospital beds are kept free for people who are seriously unwell and need urgent medical treatment.

See a list of mild, worsening and severe symptomsExternal Link below to make sure you’re getting the right help for your recovery.


Symptoms to watch out for and when to get help

It is very important to monitor the symptoms when you or someone you care for gets COVID-19, particularly if you feel they are getting worse. It’s also important to get support to match your symptoms.

  • You can safely stay at home if you or the person you are caring for has any of these symptoms:

    • runny or blocked nose
    • sore throat
    • aches and pains
    • cough
      • dry cough or coughing up mucous
      • if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual
    • feeling more tired than usual
      • but able to get out of bed, walk around the house and do normal daily activities
    • mild headache
    • loss of or change in taste and smell
    • loss of appetite or nausea
    • mild vomiting or diarrhoea
    • a temperature above 38 degrees celsius
    • shakes or shivers
    • feeling sad, worried, or frightened
    • dizziness or light-headedness
      • but not feeling like you might faint or fainting
    • mild shortness of breath when walking briskly, upstairs or coughing
      • but still able to speak in full sentences without becoming out of breath
    • no difficulty breathing when remaining still, getting dressed or eating and drinking.

    Someone with mild symptoms should be able to speak in full sentences and move around the house to do normal activities without becoming breathless.

    What do I do?

    Someone with mild symptoms is unlikely to need medical attention. A pharmacist may be able to offer you telephone advice, as well as support for you to access over the counter medicines and your regular medicines via home delivery while you have COVID-19.

    You should monitor your symptoms and:

    • rest
    • drink plenty of water (aim to drink 2 to 2.5 litres a day)
    • if you have vomiting or diarrhoea, drink oral rehydration fluids such as Gastrolyte and Hydralyte
    • eat healthy food
    • take over the counter pain medicine such as paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable. Pregnant women should not take ibuprofen
    • continue to take your regular medicines.
  • Contact a GP or if you or the person you are caring for develops any of the following symptoms:

    • mild shortness of breath when walking around the house
      • but still able to speak in full sentences without becoming out of breath
    • difficulty breathing when remaining still, getting dressed or eating and drinking
    • little or no urination
    • unable to eat and drink anything for a prolonged period
      • more than 24 hours without eating anything
      • 12 hours without drinking anything.

    Or if you feel that:

    • the symptoms are getting worse, something is wrong and you are concerned the ill person is getting much worse
    • compared to normal, you are unable to take care of yourself and others are unable to take care of you (for example, showering, putting on clothes, going to the toilet or making food).

    You can also contact the National Coronavirus HelplineExternal Link on 1800 020 080 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). If you can't see a GP, you can contact the Victorian Virtual Emergency DepartmentExternal Link for urgent care.

    What do I do?

    Contact a GP as soon as possible to discuss the worsening symptoms. If you don’t have a GP, you can also access care at a GP Respiratory ClinicExternal Link . These clinics provide GP care to people with COVID-19 either via telehealth or face-face appointments if required and are free, including if you do not have a Medicare card.

    If you are already in the COVID Positive Pathways program, report your worsening symptoms by completing any symptom surveys sent to your mobile or using the phone number or other contact details provided to you.

    You can also contact the National Coronavirus HelplineExternal Link on 1800 020 080 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). If you can't see a GP, you can contact the Victorian Virtual Emergency DepartmentExternal Link for urgent care.

  • You should call Triple Zero (000) if any of the following happens to you, or the person you are caring for:

    • severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • becoming short of breath even when resting and not moving around
      • becoming breathless when talking or finding it hard to finish sentences
    • breathing gets worse very suddenly
    • chest pain that is constant or severe
    • lips or face turning blue
    • fainting, or often feeling like you will faint
    • agitation, confusion, or severe drowsiness
    • you feel something is wrong, are concerned you are getting much worse and need help immediately.

    What do I do?

    Call Triple Zero (000) immediately if you, or the person you are looking after, get any of these symptoms. Do not wait to see if the symptoms change. If you have any of these symptoms, call for help immediately.

    When you call an Ambulance (dial Triple Zero 000), let the operator know you have COVID-19 so the paramedics know how to treat you safely. Ambulance transport to the nearest and most appropriate medical facility is free if you have a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card.

    Ambulance cover is included under most private health insurance. Find out more about ambulance cover at Membership - Ambulance VictoriaExternal Link

  • Some people will go on to develop Long COVID, a condition where you continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms for many weeks or months after your initial COVID-19 infection.

    If you feel that you have symptoms of Long COVID speak to your GP. They can help you manage these symptoms and refer you to a specialist if required.

    To see more information, visit the Long COVID page.

How to isolate effectively at home

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should isolate for at least 5 days or until you don't have any symptoms.

Stay in your room

  • It is recommended you isolate separately from the members of your household by staying in your room as much as possible. Use a separate bathroom if you have one.
  • Try not to enter shared areas, such as the kitchen or living room, if other people in the house are using it regularly.
  • Try not to have any close contact with others, including touching, kissing and hugging.

Limit numbers in the house

  • Limit the number of people who are staying in the household. Consider alternative places for them to stay if that is safe and possible.
    • Vulnerable people (for example, elderly people, immunocompromised people or people with chronic illnesses) are at greater risk and are recommended to stay elsewhere if they are able to.
  • Visitors should not be coming to the house while you or anyone in your house are isolating.

Masks, ventilation and hygiene matter

  • Keep the doors and windows open as much as possible to let the fresh air blow through - and if you have ceiling fans, keep them running at low speed. However, this may need to be balanced against making sure the temperature in the house remains comfortable.
  • If you need to be in the same room as someone else at home, wear a face mask and keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres away from other household members.
  • Wash or sanitise your hands for at least 20 seconds after you cough, sneeze, blow your nose or take off gloves and masks.
  • Wipe down surfaces that you use regularly, like doorknobs to your room and bathroom.
  • If people are leaving you meals, tell them to leave it at the door and only collect the meal once they have moved away from the area.
  • You should not share cups, glasses, plates, utensils, towels or bedding with others in your home.


Advice for pregnant women with COVID-19

For most pregnant women, COVID-19 will be a mild flu-like illness, and it likely won’t cause problems for you or your baby, especially if you are up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccinations are safe for pregnant women and will protect you, your baby, and your family.

It is still recommended that you have (or complete) the 3-dose vaccination course after you have recovered from COVID-19.

Some pregnant women who get COVID-19 may get very sick and need to be in hospital or need extra medical care. Pregnant women who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, are very overweight, have other underlying medical problems such as heart, lung or immune system disorders, or are older in age or later in their pregnancy may become more unwell from COVID-19.

When you are at home with COVID-19 you may be contacted by a healthcare worker from the COVID Positive Pathways Program to check you have the support you need.

  • Transmission of COVID-19 to your unborn baby when you are pregnant is rare.

    For most pregnant women, symptoms generally last a few days and rarely a few weeks. These can mostly be monitored and managed at home.

    Pregnant women with mild symptoms are unlikely to need medical attention, but should be aware of changes in their breathing, heart rate and temperature, noting whether symptoms have changed and/or become more severe.

  • Once you have tested positive for COVID-19, you should isolate at home if you can. Try to stay away from other people in your house.

    If you are worried about your baby or pregnancy, contact your usual maternity provider. You may also wish to let your GP or midwife know you have COVID-19.

    If you are worried about your COVID-19 symptoms, contact a GP or your COVID Positive Pathways team if you are enrolled. If you don’t have a GP, you can also access care at a GP Respiratory ClinicExternal Link . These clinics provide GP care to people with COVID-19 either via telehealth or face-face appointments if required and are free, including if you do not have a Medicare card.

    If you can't see a GP, you can contact the Victorian Virtual Emergency DepartmentExternal Link for urgent care.

  • Maternity hospitals will look after you, your birth partner, and your baby safely if you are in isolation when your baby needs to be born.

    If you go into labour while in isolation with COVID-19, you should contact your booked maternity service or hospital so the team can prepare for your labour and birth.

  • You should monitor your symptoms at least twice per day during isolation, or more often at the direction of your care provider. Keeping a diary is helpful for monitoring any changes. If you are on a COVID Positive Pathway, you may be provided with tools to document your symptoms such as a weblink or form.

    Most pregnant women will have no symptoms or mild symptoms, but you should still monitor your breathing, heart rate and temperature.

    • Check if your breathing is difficult. Someone with mild symptoms should be able to speak in full sentences and move around the house to do normal activities without becoming breathless.
    • You can check your heart rate by feeling your pulse. Place your fingers lightly on your wrist and count how many beats you feel over 30 seconds - double this number for heart rate per minute. If your heart rate is more than 120 beats per minute, you need to be reviewed by a doctor.
    • Measure your temperature using a thermometer. If you do not have a thermometer, it is recommended that you buy one from a pharmacy and have it delivered to your home. In pregnancy, your temperature should be less than 38 degrees Celsius.
  • Common mild symptoms of COVID-19 when pregnant include:

    • fever
    • shakes, shivers and sweats
    • muscle and joint pain
    • runny or blocked nose
    • cough
    • mild headache
    • sore or scratchy throat
    • loss of smell or taste
    • feeling tired / lethargic
    • poor appetite
    • mild nausea and vomiting
    • diarrhoea
    • dizziness (but not feeling like you might faint or fainting)
    • blocked or stuffy nose and loss of smell / taste are often the last symptoms to get better.

    What should I do?

    You should monitor your symptoms and:

    • rest
    • drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated (aim to drink 2 to 2.5 litres a day)
    • if you have vomiting or diarrhoea, drink oral rehydration fluids such as Gastrolyte
    • healthy foods and soothing drinks may help with a sore throat (e.g. tea or honey and lemon)
    • use fans, cool showers and cool face washers for fever relief
    • warm, steamy showers, or saline nasal sprays may help manage nasal congestion
    • take paracetamol (Panadol) to manage pain, headache and fever. Paracetamol is safe to take every 6 hours (do not take more than 4 doses per day)
      • DO NOT take ibuprofen (Nurofen, Advil) or other over-the-counter pain, or cold and flu medicines without consulting your maternity provider or pharmacist.

    A pharmacist may be able to offer you telephone advice, as well as support for you to access over the counter medicines and your regular medicines via home delivery while you have COVID-19.

  • Contact a GP or GP Respiratory ClinicExternal Link if you develop any of the following symptoms:

    • mild shortness of breath when walking around the house
      • but still able to speak in full sentences without becoming out of breath
      • difficulty breathing when remaining still, getting dressed or eating and drinking
    • little or no urination
    • unable to eat and drink anything for a prolonged period
      • more than 24 hours without eating anything
      • 12 hours without drinking anything.

    Or if you feel that:

    • the symptoms are getting worse, something is wrong and you are concerned you are getting much worse
    • you are unable to take care of yourself and others are unable to take care of you (for example, showering, putting on clothes, going to the toilet or making food).

    You can also contact the National Coronavirus HelplineExternal Link on 1800 020 080 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). If you can't see a GP, you can contact the Victorian Virtual Emergency DepartmentExternal Link for urgent care.

    What do I do?

    Contact your GP as soon as possible to discuss the worsening symptoms. If you don’t have a GP, you can also access care at a GP Respiratory ClinicExternal Link . These clinics provide GP care to people with COVID-19 either via telehealth or face-face appointments if required and are free, including if you do not have a Medicare card.

    If you are already in the COVID Positive Pathways program, report your worsening symptoms by completing any symptom surveys sent to your mobile or using the phone number or other contact details provided to you.

    You can also contact the National Coronavirus HelplineExternal Link on 1800 020 080 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). If you can't see a GP, you can contact the Victorian Virtual Emergency DepartmentExternal Link for urgent care.

  • You should call Triple Zero (000) if any of the following happens to you:

    • severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • becoming short of breath even when resting and not moving around
      • becoming breathless when talking or finding it hard to finish sentences
    • breathing gets worse very suddenly
    • chest pain that is constant or severe
    • lips or face are turning blue
    • fainting, or often feeling like you will faint
    • agitation, confusion, or severe drowsiness
    • you feel something is wrong, are concerned you are getting much worse and need help immediately.

    What do I do?

    Call Triple Zero (000) immediately if you get any of these symptoms. Do not wait to see if the symptoms change. If you have any of these symptoms, call for help immediately.

    When you call an Ambulance (dial Triple Zero 000), let the operator know you have COVID-19 and are pregnant, so the paramedics know how to treat you safely. Ambulance transport to the nearest and most appropriate medical facility is free if you have a Health Care Card or Pensioner Concession Card.

    Ambulance cover is included under most private health insurance. Find out more about ambulance cover at Membership - Ambulance VictoriaExternal Link

  • Contact your maternity care provider for urgent advice if you have:

    • bleeding from the vagina
    • your baby is moving less
    • labour starts or your waters break
    • temperature higher than 38.5 degrees Celsius, despite taking paracetamol (Panadol).
  • Some people will go on to develop Long COVID, a condition where you continue to experience COVID-19 symptoms for many weeks or months after your initial COVID-19 infection.

    If you feel that you have symptoms of Long COVID speak to your GP. They can help you manage these symptoms and refer you to a specialist if required.

    To see more information, visit the Long COVID page.


Other support you can receive

Food and essential items

Emergency relief packages with basic food staples and other items are available, but only for the most vulnerable and in need. You will not be eligible if you have provisions at home or other support available.

Financial support

You may be eligible for financial support while you isolate.

Mental health and wellbeing

If you’re having a difficult time or are feeling overwhelmed, you can see these resources or call 1300 375 330 to get support through your local Mental Health & Wellbeing Hub. In an emergency where there is immediate risk of harm to a person, call Triple Zero (000). For 24-hour crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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Reviewed 03 November 2022

Coronavirus Victoria

Coronavirus Hotline

Call the Coronavirus Hotline if you need help to report a rapid antigen test (RAT) or if you have any questions about COVID-19.

The Victorian Coronavirus Hotline diverts to the National Coronavirus Helpline every night between 4pm and 9am.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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