COVID-19 Symptoms

What the COVID-19 symptoms are, how fast they appear and what to do if you have any symptoms.

If you present any of the following COVID-19 symptoms call the Te Marae Ora (Ministry of Health) Free Healthline on 0800 1888

On this page

> COVID-19 symptoms
> Less common symptoms
> Time for symptoms to appear
> If you have symptoms
> How COVID-19 spreads
> Maintain good hygiene
> 10 Public Health tips to keep safe

COVID-19 Symptoms:

Symptoms include:

  • a new or worsening cough
  • a fever of at least 38°C
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of taste or smell.

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as colds and flu.
Shortness of breath is a sign of possible pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

Less common symptoms:

Some people may also have less common symptoms such as only:

  • diarrhoea
  • headache
  • abdominal pain
  • malaise - a general feeling of discomfort, illness or unease
  • muscle pain or body aches
  • nausea and vomiting
  • confusion and irritability
  • A rash on the skin or discolouration of fingers or toes
  • Red or irritated eyes

If you have any of these symptoms call the TMO Free Healthline on 0800 1888

Time for symptoms to appear:

We do not yet know how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected, but current World Health Organization assessments suggest that it’s 2 to 10 days.

Days 1 – 3

Early symptoms of COVID-19 vary widely

  • It can start with a tickle in your throat, a cough, fever or headache. You may also feel short of breath or a little pressure on your chest.
  • Sometimes it begins with a bout of diarrhoea (runny poo).
  • You may feel tired and/or may lose your sense of taste and smell.
  • You may experience some or none of these symptoms.

Days 4 – 6

These are the important days to be more aware of your symptoms. This is when lung (respiratory) symptoms may start to get worse, especially for older people and people who have other conditions like high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes.

  • You may start to feel worse and may have aches, chills, cough and an inability to get comfortable.
  • Some younger people may develop rashes, including itchy red patches, swelling or blistering on your toes or fingers.

Day 7 – 8

  • For people with mild illness, the worst is generally over after a week.
  • Some people may get worse at this point, or start to feel better briefly then take a turn for the worse.
  • If you start to feel worse, contact your local Health Clinic

Day 8 – 14

Continue to monitor and record your symptoms

  • You may feel better sleeping on your front/stomach or side.
  • If you start to feel worse, contact your local Health Clinic.
  • Towards the end of the isolation period, most people will begin to feel better. Some people feel more tired than usual.
  • A slow return to activity is advised.
  • If you have ongoing severe symptoms, your Health Clinic will advise you on what to do.

If you have symptoms:

Talk to a health professional

If you have a cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call:

  • TMO Free Healthline on 0800 1888

A Te Marae Ora representative will advise whether you fit the criteria for testing. Call before visiting if you have any symptoms.
Let your health professional know if you have travelled internationally in the past 14 days, or if you have been in contact with a confirmed or probable case.

While you have symptoms

  • If you’re sick, stay home. Do not go to work or school. Do not socialise.
  • If you have a cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms call the TMO free Healthline and check if you should get tested.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow, and regularly disinfect shared surfaces.
  • If you are told by health authorities to self-isolate, do so immediately. If you are awaiting test results you will also need to self-isolate.

How COVID-19 spreads:

Like the flu, COVID-19 is usually spread from person to person. Scientific evidence suggests that COVID-19 is spread by droplets. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may spread droplets containing the virus.

People may get infected by the virus if they touch surfaces or objects that have been touched by an infected person, or if droplets have settled there. These particles range in size. Larger and heavier particles — droplets — quickly fall to the ground or other surfaces within seconds or minutes. Smaller particles — aerosols — can remain airborne for minutes to hours. Spread of the virus by aerosols appears to be more important than previously thought.

The risk of airborne transmission becomes higher:

  • in enclosed spaces that do not have good airflow
  • in crowded places
  • in close-contact settings, such as close-range conversations, singing, or shouting.

The risk is lower outside, with fewer people, and if people are widely spread.

Maintain good hygiene:

That’s why it’s really important to use good hygiene, at any time.

  • Regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
  • Clean or disinfect shared surfaces regularly.
  • Wear a face covering.
  • If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and call the TMO Free Healthline on 0800 1888

10 Public Health Tips to Keep You Safe:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  2. Practise pragmatic physical distancing (at least 2m)
  3. Cover your coughs and sneezes
  4. Avoid touching your face (eyes, mouth, nose) with unwashed hands
  5. Stay home if you are feeling unwell
  6. Wear a face mask if unwell, in public, crowded, or enclosed spaces
  7. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  8. Limit time spent in crowded and enclosed spaces
  9. Protect vulnerable people in our community
  10. Avoid spreading misinformation