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What to do if you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

Advice on what to do if you test positive for coronavirus.

Key points

I have received a positive test result for coronavirus (COVID-19). What should I do?

  • If you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) you must immediately go home and isolate. Do not make any stops on the way home.
  • During isolation you must stay in your home and away from other people in your household.
  • You cannot leave your house for any reason unless it is an emergency, you need medical help, or to escape family violence.
  • The Department of Health will call you and tell you when you can finish your isolation and safely leave your home.

If you are unsure where you should isolate or do not have a place where you can do so safely, you should call the dedicated Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398.

I am isolating and staying at home. What if I live with other people?

  • You should stay and sleep in a different room to other people.
  • You should use a separate bathroom.
  • Accommodation is available if you cannot separate from other people in your home - call the dedicated Victorian COVID-19 hotline on 1800 675 398
  • You must not have people visit you inside your home or accommodation.
  • Ensure you stay at least 1.5 metres from others at all times.
  • Do not share food and drink. Do not share household items like forks, knives, plates or glasses.

How long does isolation last?

If you have coronavirus (COVID-19) you need to isolate for at least 10 to 14 days – however this depends on:

  • how sick you have been
  • when your symptoms resolve
  • whether you needed to go to hospital
  • whether you have had a more infectious strain of COVID-19

The Department of Health will issue you with clearance when it is safe for you to leave your home or another place where you are isolating. More information about financial support available for those in isolation can be found on Help and support.

Find information on what to do if you are a close contact.

Support is available if you need help while in isolation. See Isolation and quarantine extra help and support.

Find information on what to do if you are a close contact.

Support is available if you need help while in isolation. See Isolation and quarantine extra help and support.

How to isolate

I’ve been told to isolate. What should I do?

  1. If you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) you will be notified by the Department of Health.
  2. When notified, if you are not at the place where you will isolate, you must go there immediately and stay there. You must not make any stops on the way home.
  3. If you are unsure where you should isolate or do not have a place where you can isolate safely, call the dedicated Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398.
  4. An officer from the Department of Health will call you to support you through your isolation period. They will talk to you about who you have been in contact with and where you have been to help identify your close contacts.
  5. Read the What to do if you've tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) factsheet (Word)
  6. Tell the people you live with that you are isolating at home. This is important as they will need to quarantine themselves.

What do I do if I feel well during isolation?

Even if you feel well, you need to remain in isolation until you are told by the Department of Health that it is safe for you to leave your home or another place where you are isolating.

What do I do if I feel unwell or have symptoms during isolation?

If you start to feel unwell or your symptoms get worse but are not serious for advice call:

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week)
  • your doctor (GP)

In either circumstance, you should disclose that you have coronavirus (COVID-19) and that you are in isolation.

If you have serious symptoms, like difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. Make sure you say that you have coronavirus (COVID-19) and are in isolation.

Can I go outside during isolation?

While you are in isolation you need to stay at home (or another suitable place where you are isolating).

  • If you are isolating in a private house or apartment you can go outside to your own garden, balcony or courtyard. You cannot go into a garden or courtyard area that you share with other households, such as a common garden or courtyard in an apartment building or other type of accommodation.
  • You are permitted to leave home (or the other suitable place) to seek medical care.
  • You are permitted to leave home (or the other suitable place) in an emergency or if required by law or for other limited reasons.
  • If you or your children are escaping harm or are at risk of harm from family violence, you can leave your home (or the other suitable place) to seek support and assistance. Call safe steps on 1800 015 188 or email safesteps@safesteps.org.au for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • You must wear a fitted face mask when you leave home (or another suitable place where you are isolating) for any of these reasons.
  • You are not allowed to leave your home (or another suitable place where you are isolating)  for any other non-permitted reason, including shopping or exercise, while you are in isolation.
  • If you become unwell or your symptoms worsen you should immediately seek medical advice.

Can I visit someone in hospital while I am in isolation?

In general, you are not permitted to leave your place of isolation, including to visit other people. However in special circumstances, someone who is in isolation can visit a patient in hospital. This includes if they are the parent or guardian of a child or minor who is in hospital, to support someone giving birth, or to support someone who is dying. Each hospital will determine the conditions, including any necessary safeguards for visitors currently in isolation.

If you want to visit someone in hospital while you are in isolation you should speak to the officer from the Department of Health who contacts you regularly to check in with you.

Can I leave home?

While you isolate:

  • You are not allowed to leave home for shopping or exercise.
  • You can only leave home to get medical care or medical supplies, to get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), in an emergency, or in other limited circumstances.
  • If you or your children are escaping harm or are at risk of harm from family violence, you can leave your home (or another suitable place where you are isolating) to seek support and assistance. Call safe steps on 1800 015 188 or email safesteps@safesteps.org.au for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • You must not allow anyone else to enter your home unless:
    • they normally live there
    • they are also quarantining or isolating there
    • other limited circumstances (such as medical or emergency purposes or to provide personal care, a disability service or household assistance to support a person who needs help due to their age, disability or chronic health condition).
  • If you are isolating in a private house or apartment you can go outside to your own garden, balcony or courtyard. You cannot go into a garden or courtyard area that you share with other households, such as a common garden or courtyard in an apartment building or other type of accommodation.

How do I get food or other supplies such as medication while I am in isolation?

If you don’t live with others, you should order food or supplies to be delivered to your house, or have friends, family or your carer drop off supplies to your house. Anyone delivering these items should not enter your house or come into contact with you – if possible, they should leave the supplies at your door. This is to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).

Support is available if you need help while in isolation. Visit Extra help.

I need assistance from a carer. Can I get help while in isolation?

If you need assistance due to your age, disability or a chronic health condition then a service provider, carer, family member or friend can visit your home and provide you with assistance. You should tell your service provider you are in isolation at home before they visit.

A service provider or carer will need to wear a fitted face mask while visiting your home.

Can I receive deliveries during isolation?

Yes, although the delivery person should leave your delivery outside your door. They should not enter your home or come close to you in any way. Consider making payment for the delivery online in advance or using a contactless payment method to minimise the chances of physical contact. Avoid paying by cash.

Can I leave home to exercise?

No. If you are confirmed as having COVID-19, you cannot leave your home to exercise. Penalties apply.

Leaving isolation and getting tested

Will I need to be tested again?

While all people who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate until cleared, most people will not need to be tested again.

Before being cleared from isolation, the Department of Health will ask you to be tested again if you:

  • are significantly immunocompromised (have a weakened immune system prone to infection) or
  • have been severely ill requiring hospitalisation and have continuing symptoms, or
  • have had a more infectious strain of COVID-19.

I tested positive for COVID-19. How do I know when I can stop isolating?

You must isolate until you receive clearance from the Department of Health. An officer from the department will call you to explain what this means and answer any questions you may have.

The Department of Health or an authorised health worker will do an assessment and decide if your isolation can end. This will depend on:

  • the amount of time since your symptoms began – usually between 10 to 14 days
  • how sick you have been
  • how much your symptoms have improved
  • whether you have a weakened immune system prone to infection (immunocompromised)
  • whether you have had a more infectious strain of COVID-19
  • results from any testing that the department may have asked you to do.

The department will give you written clearance that says you are no longer required to isolate. You will then be able to return to your normal activities in line with any restrictions in place at your location 

You must continue to isolate until you are cleared.

How to care for those in isolation

How do you care for someone who is sick during isolation?

If you are looking after a sick family member and they are in isolation, there are some important things you should do to keep everyone in your home safe.

  • Ensure the sick person remains in one room away from others in the household.
  • Keep their door closed and windows open where possible.
  • Keep the number of carers to a minimum and do not allow visitors from outside the household to visit.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser before and after entering the room.
  • Keep the sick person's crockery and utensils separate from the rest of the household.
  • If available, you should wear a surgical mask (single-use face mask) when you are in the sick person's room. If you don't have a surgical mask, use a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth instead.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect high touch surfaces such as tabletops, doors, computer keyboards, taps and handles.
  • Dispose of tissues and masks in a sealed plastic bag and put in the usual household waste.
  • When washing clothes, wear a fitted face mask and do not shake the sick person’s laundry. You should wash their clothes using the highest heat setting for the fabric with your usual detergent. You should wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser after handling their laundry. Let their clothes dry completely.
  • If the person starts to feel worse, call the dedicated Victorian coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week) for advice.
  • If you need to visit your GP, call ahead before you arrive at your GP's office. Make sure you say that you have COVID-19 and that you are in isolation. The GP'S office will prepare appropriate infection control measures.

If the person you are caring for develops serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. Say that the person has COVID-19 and is in isolation.

How can I care for others around me who are in isolation or quarantine?

Think about elderly friends, neighbours, and people with a disability in your community and how you can support each other during a period of quarantine or isolation. If you are not currently in quarantine or isolation but family or friends are, think about how you might be able to help them out, such as regularly checking in by phone or by supporting them to get food and other necessities.

Enforcing isolation

Will someone check that I am staying at home?

Someone from the Department of Health will contact you regularly to check in and see how you are. They may do this using SMS or a phone call.

Police are conducting random spot checks to ensure people who are in isolation are complying with directions by staying at home. Police can take enforcement action if necessary.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

If you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) you must isolate until you receive clearance from the Department of Health.

If you have been identified as a close contact you must quarantine for 14 days since your last contact with a positive case.

A fine of $4,957 can be issued to a person found to have breached the requirement to isolate or quarantine for a second or subsequent time.

Victoria Police can issue on the spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses for:

  • Refusing or failing to comply with the emergency directions
  • Refusing or failing to comply with a public health risk power direction
  • Refusing or failing to comply with the Public Health Directions to provide information.

Fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses are possible through the court system. Individuals who do not wear a face mask and do not have a lawful reason can be fined $200.

Reviewed 22 March 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

24/7 Coronavirus Hotline

If you suspect you may have coronavirus (COVID-19) call the dedicated hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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