So, you have COVID-19. Here’s exactly what you should do next.

As COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise and testing times blow out, you might find yourself wondering what happens if you actually test positive for COVID-19?

Once you receive a phone call or text, there are a number of steps you should follow to keep yourself and everyone around you as safe as possible. 

This might differ slightly depending on what state you live in, but don't worry we've got you covered.

From how long you need to isolate to who you need to tell, here are all your COVID-19 questions answered. 

1. How long do I need to isolate for? 

In almost all states in Australia, if you test positive for COVID-19 you must self-isolate away from others.

Your state's health department will contact and give you specific advice on what is required during your isolation period and when you can leave isolation. 

However, if you test positive to COVID-19 in New South Wales, Queensland, or Victoria, you must self-isolate at home for seven days from the date you got tested, even if you are fully vaccinated.

In South Australia, you can leave isolation 10 days after you had your PCR test positive test taken, unless otherwise advised by SA Health.

Over in the Northern Territory, the NT Centre for Disease Control will contact you and let you know the next steps for isolation and treatment. 

Similarly, in Western Australia and Tasmania, people who test positive to COVID-19 will need to stay in isolation until they are medically cleared.

2. Can I isolate at a hotel or at other accommodation?

Yes, you can. 

According to NSW Health, you should isolate at the place you are staying. This may be your home, a hotel, motel or other form of accommodation. 

If you are not already at home when you find out your need to isolate, you will need to travel by private car directly to your accommodation. 

Some people who are unwell or have a higher risk of becoming very unwell may be treated in a hospital instead of isolating at home. 

3. What if I live in an apartment building?

If you live in an apartment building, you will need to make sure you stay away from others in the building by remaining inside you own apartment. This means you cannot use shared laundry facilities or any other common areas. 

If you need help removing rubbish from your apartment, ask a neighbour or contact your building manager to collect your rubbish by leaving it outside your door. However, no one else should help you do your laundry. 

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4. Who do I tell? 

Once you test positive for COVID-19, you need to let the people you've been in contact with know. This includes your household contacts, friends and family you caught up with, your employer and your child's school/childcare.

If you're struggling to find the right words, the Victorian Government has put together an example message to send to social contacts.

When you tell your manager at work or your child's school/childcare, let them know the following information: 

  • The date you got tested 
  • When you got sick and if you had symptoms
  • The days you were at work or the education facility in the two-day period before you got sick or two days before your test if you have no symptoms.

You should also tell anyone you spent 15 minutes or more with in an indoor environment without a mask, from two days before you got sick until the present or from two days before your test until the present, if you have no symptoms. 

The people you've come into contact with should get tested immediately, self-isolate and follow the advice from their state or territory health department. Some may be deemed close contacts, depending on where you live. 

5. How do I get supplies?

While in isolation you may be worried about running out of food or other important supplies. However, there are a number of ways for you to access the essentials. 

You can ask your family or friends who do not live with you to help pick up groceries or medication and leave them on your doorstep. Once they have left, put on a mask and open the door to collect your supplies. 

You can also order food and groceries to be delivered online. 

For medication, call your preferred pharmacy to see if they can arrange a home delivery for you. 

Different states and territories also offer support. In New South Wales, if you need help to access food or essentials, call the NSW Health Isolation Support Line on 1800 943 553. 

In Victoria, basic food items can be provided through an Emergency Relief package by calling the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398. 

6. Do I need to get another test before I leave isolation? 

Whether or not you need to get another test to leave isolation will depend on your state's health advice. 

In South Australia, the rules are simple, "After your initial positive test, you will not be required to have additional tests or a clearance test".

Meanwhile, ACT Health state that generally, no further COVID-19 tests will be required to leave isolation.

In Tasmania, the government says most people won't need to do a test before being leaving isolation as long as you don't have any symptoms and you have been in isolation for the required time. However, Public Health may ask you to be tested again if you are significantly immunocompromised or have continuing symptoms.

New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia don't specify on their health department website if further testing is required. Instead, they say you can leave isolation when you are medically cleared by a medical practitioner or the health department. 

In Victoria, most people are not required to get tested again after isolating for 7 days. 

Those who are urged to get tested include individuals who have a weakened immune system and are immunocompromised, those who have continuing symptoms or were hospitalised with COVID-19. Those who have had a more infectious strain of COVID-19 are also urged to re-test.

In the Northern Territory, the NT Centre for Disease Control will let you know next steps for isolation and treatment.

7. What should I do if my symptoms get worse during isolation?

If your symptoms worsen while in isolation the advice is to call a doctor. 

However, if it's an emergency, or you are having severe headaches or dizziness, difficulty breathing or have pain in your chest, call triple Zero (000) straight away. You should also let the ambulance staff know that you are currently isolating with COVID-19.  

8. What other help is available?

Isolation isn't easy, so make sure to reach out to family, friends or health services if you need support. 

For mental health support, you can contact: 

  • Beyond Blue helpline on 1800 512 348
  • Lifeline on  13 11 14

For domestic violence support, you can contact:

  • National sexual assault and domestic violence helpline on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

Different states and territories also offer mental health and financial support which you can find on their health department website. 

Feature Image: Getty.