If you feel unwell, you should contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your iwi health provider or GP. They will help you understand what you need to do next. Some people may need to be tested for COVID-19.
Why testing is critical to uniting against COVID-19
Testing is an important part of helping us eliminate COVID-19 in New Zealand. A high number of tests across the country helps us:
- identify cases of COVID-19
- manage clusters of cases when we find them
- track how well our efforts are working.
New Zealand already has high rates of testing and good test capacity, but work is continuing to increase both.
Assessment for testing
You may hear people talk about the “case definition”. The case definition is a medical term for the document which outlines the symptoms, risks and other actions around a particular illness. To help local health authorities assess people who may be ill, the Ministry of Health has set a case definition for COVID-19 that provides guidance to health providers about what they should take into account when deciding if someone should be tested.
The case definition is a guide only – health professionals are the best people to decide when testing is needed. They will continue to use their clinical judgement.
If you meet the case definition, you may be referred to be tested. Your health professional will work with you and make sure you know where to go and what to do.
A person might meet the current case definition if they are unwell with an acute respiratory infection, and have at least one other symptom:
- a cough
- sore throat
- head cold
- loss of sense of smell.
They do not need to have a fever to meet the current case definition.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold or flu.
What to do if you think you need to get tested
We want to make sure that we’re reaching everyone who may be affected by COVID-19.
Getting assessed early helps protect those around you and helps New Zealand eliminate COVID-19.
If you have symptoms you think match the case definition, please call:
- your GP
- iwi health provider, or
- Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453. Healthline will tell you what you need to do.
How testing works
There is more than one way to test for COVID-19, for example, a nose swab or a sputum test. Whatever form a test takes, it involves collecting a sample from you that is then sent to a lab to be analysed. The results may take some time.
Anyone being tested will be told when and how to expect their results. Whether you test positive or negative, you should be notified about your results. You should continue to act as though you have COVID-19 and self-isolate until you are notified of your results.
Anyone being tested should follow the advice they are given at the time about what to do next.
For a small number of people, you may meet the case definition but not be tested. You may be considered a “probable” case. You will need to self-isolate just as if you had a positive test result. There is no difference in the actions needed by someone who tests positive for COVID-19 and someone who is a probable case.
What happens if you test positive
Our health system is set up and ready to support anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.
Whenever someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, medical professionals will advise them on what they need to do.
For most people this will mean self-isolating at home.
Teams also immediately start work to identify and contact anyone that those who have tested positive may have come into close contact with.
Help protect healthcare workers when getting tested
If you go to get tested, we need your help to keep healthcare workers safe. That means continuing to cough into your elbow, cover any sneezes and staying 2 metres away from other people wherever possible.
You will need to follow any instructions you’re given like turning up on time, calling ahead or waiting in your car.
Those testing you will be wearing protective equipment likes gowns or masks – this is nothing to be worried about, it helps protect them and everyone they are testing.
Community Based Assessment Centres
In some areas of the country Community Based Assessment Centres (CBACs) have been set up. These are often separate to regular healthcare centres and may be in temporary facilities.
You may be directed to a CBAC by your health professional for testing. It is important you follow all instructions given to you to ensure our healthcare workers at the CBAC stay safe.
These testing centres give New Zealand more ability to test and help keep people who might have COVID-19 away from hospitals and other health centres where people may be vulnerable.
You can find out more about the exact arrangements for your area by visiting the website of your local district health board.
- Auckland District Health Board(external link)
- Bay of Plenty District Health Board(external link)
- Capital & Coast District Health Board(external link)
- Counties Manukau District Health Board(external link)
- Hawke's Bay District Health Board(external link)
- Hutt Valley District Health Board(external link)
- Lakes District Health Board(external link)
- MidCentral District Health Board(external link)
- Northland District Health Board(external link)
- Tairāwhiti District Health Board(external link)
- Taranaki District Health Board(external link)
- Waikato District Health Board(external link)
- Wairarapa District Health Board(external link)
- Waitematā District Health Board(external link)
- Whanganui District Health Board(external link)
- Canterbury District Health Board(external link)
- Nelson Marlborough District Health Board(external link)
- South Canterbury District Health Board(external link)
- Southern District Health Board(external link)
- West Coast District Health Board(external link)
Testing data in New Zealand
The Ministry of Health is providing a daily update on a range of statistics for New Zealand including the number of tests completed each day and over the previous 7 days.
The Ministry of Health is also recording tests by region and by ethnicity within regions. This helps us ensure we have an accurate picture of the spread of COVID-19 and can respond in the best way. It also helps to keep track of who is being tested, including vulnerable communities or at-risk groups with underlying health conditions.