Managing Covid-19 at home

by By Dr Reza Jarral GP and Clinical Director CareHQ
Wednesday , 26 January 2022 - 4-5 minute read
A woman with the flu sits on the couch and works on her laptop

It’s normal to feel scared, confused or even angry when you are first told that you have COVID. There’s a sea of information out there and it’s not always clear what is the right information, and what’s relevant to you. If you are not sure what to expect or how to prepare for COVID, printable PDF’s will help guide you through what you need to know, and how to care for people with COVID at home.

I have COVID, now what?

A COVID diagnosis can come as a shock, but what you might not be aware of is that most people can and will recover safely at home. After receiving confirmation of your diagnosis, you will be advised by your healthcare team if your household bubble should isolate at home or if it’s best for you to be cared for at a managed isolation facility (MIQ).

This decision is based on your individual needs, so it’s important that you share as much information as possible about your personal circumstances with your healthcare team. Mark your calendar on the day you are diagnosed, or the first day you notice symptoms – this is considered ‘Day 0’ and it will help your healthcare team plan your isolation.

Be reassured that you are not alone – there will be support available. Your healthcare team will be in touch to coordinate health checks and welfare calls as needed. Talk to your healthcare team about what you need.

They may be able to arrange deliveries of food, medicines, as well as mental health and social support – but bear in mind that it can take a while for this support to arrive. Follow your healthcare team’s advice closely and please stay at home until you are released from isolation by formal notice from your healthcare team.

By remaining at home within your bubble you are playing an important role in keeping your community, family and friends safe by reducing the spread of this virus.

What to expect

Recovery from COVID takes longer than most viruses. It usually takes around 2 weeks to get better. It’s important that you carefully track your symptoms over the entire recovery period. Days 5 to 10 can be particularly dangerous for people at higher risk, such as the elderly, pregnant and those with other medical conditions. Here is how COVID commonly progresses:

Days 1 – 3: People can experience a wide variation of symptoms, ranging from no symptoms at all to feeling very unwell.

Cough, fever, fatigue, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, breathlessness, diarrhoea, loss of smell.

Days 4 – 6: These are vital days to monitor your symptoms, as some people can find their breathing begins to worsen.

Aches, chills, cough, rashes, difficulty getting comfortable.

Days 7 – 12: Some start to improve, however for others they may initially improve, then worsen – call for help early if you begin to feel worse.

Days 13 – 14: Most people will feel better by now, however some remain tired. Each person is unique and a slow return to activity is advised.

Avoid running, strenuous exercises and high impact activities until cleared by your healthcare team. Remember to stay at home until you are released from isolation.

When to call for help

Stay vigilant and keep your diary updated throughout your isolation period, even if you’re starting to feel better. With COVID we know that days 5 to 10 can be dangerous, especially for older patients and people with long term medical issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.

While most will make a full recovery at home, some experience more severe symptoms and may require admission to hospital. It’s important that you and your bubble have a clear plan of action to get help early if you feel that things are moving in the wrong direction.

Do not wait for a check-in call to seek help if you notice someone in your bubble is more unwell - call for help early.

Symptoms to look out for include worsening fatigue or breathing, dropping oxygen saturation, or a rising heart rate.

Your healthcare team will provide you with phone numbers that you can call to seek help, including those shown here.

General Health Advice: 0800 611 116

COVID Health Advice: 0800 358 5453

Call your healthcare team if:

• you have new or worse trouble breathing

• your symptoms are getting worse

• your pulse rate, oxygen saturation or temperature are getting worse

• you start getting better but then get worse

• you have symptoms of severe dehydration such as:

- a very dry mouth

- passing only a little urine (pee)

- feeling very light-headed.

• you have any other cause for worry including new or unexplained symptoms.

Call 111 if you have severe symptoms including:

• severe trouble breathing

• severe chest pain

• pass out

• feel faint

• feel confused or drowsy

• have any other medical emergency or urgent safety concern.

Protecting your bubble

Stay at home and follow your healthcare team’s advice carefully. Even if you don’t experience symptoms you can still pass the infection on to others.

By staying at home and minimising your exposure to others within your household, you are protecting your friends, whānau and your wider community. If you live with people over 70, someone who is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, let your healthcare team know as a matter of priority.

Keep at least 2 metres away from each other and avoid using shared areas at the same time. If possible use separate bathrooms, dining spaces and bedrooms, remembering to wash your hands often.

If you have to use shared rooms at the same time, make sure it has adequate ventilation (by keeping doors and windows open) and wear your masks. Wipe down surfaces including bathrooms and toilets regularly and keep laundry separate.

Your healthcare team will let your bubble know if they need testing during their isolation but remember to call the COVID Healthline should anyone in your household develop new symptoms (0800 358 5453).

Manaaki - we’re in this together

It is not easy isolating at home or in MIQ. Please ask for help if you need it. By keeping yourself supported you are contributing to Aotearoa’s path to recovery. Discuss your bubble’s needs with your assigned healthcare team - whether it is the delivery of medicine, financial support, food, sanitary products or nappies - they are best placed to coordinate manaaki. Other resources you may find helpful include:

  • General Information Resources:
  • 24-hour COVID Health Advice: 0800 358 5453
  • Māori Support Line: 0800 768 626
  • Pasifika Support Line: 0800 652 535
  • Living and Food Expenses: 0800 559 009
  • Need to Talk? - free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
  • Family Services Directory (for local support): 0800 211 211
  • SVA national grocery delivery service:
  • Financial Support:
  • NZ COVID Support Group:

We can do this, Aotearoa!

We hope you found this article useful. For more information about COVID and care in the home environment, head over to Health Navigator. Remember that by isolating at home you are performing an incredibly important job and playing your part in keeping New Zealand safe. The more that we support each other, the stronger we are as a team - and the quicker our shared path to recovery will be.

Kia kaha, Kia māia, Kia manawanui.


You are advised that the information contained in the article and the multimedia content (“Covid – 19 Content”) which are posted here is being made available for informational and educational purposes only. CareHQ does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the up – to – date accuracy, applicability, or completeness of the Covid – 19 Content presented herein, and the information presented is subject to change and variation based on developing scientific and medical opinion. The Covid – 19 Content posted here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your personal doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Please do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen on the Covid – 19 Content.


1. Health Navigator

2. Ministry of Health

3. Unite Against COVID-19

4. Hamilton Family Medicine

5. NHS A-Z / NHS Inform

6. Academic Emergency Medicine 2020; 27: 566– 569

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