COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Also known as:

Mate korona


  • COVID-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It affects your lungs, airways and other organs

  • Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses that cause illnesses such as the common cold. Other recent diseases caused by coronaviruses include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).


You may experience mild or no symptoms. These can include:

  • sneezing and runny nose

  • sore throat

  • body aches

  • fever

  • cough

  • feeling tired

  • headache

  • nausea and vomiting

  • diarrhoea (runny poo)

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. Some symptoms are like other illnesses such as colds and flu.


If you have COVID-19 symptoms again and it has been 29 days or more since a previous infection, you should test with a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).

RAT Collection Centres are listed here

If it is positive, you should stay at home and we recommended you isolate for at least 5 days, and follow the advice for people who have COVID-19 (below). 

If your test is negative:

  • your symptoms could be another illness, such as a cold or flu

  • and your symptoms continue, you should repeat a RAT 48 hours later

  • if your result is still negative, stay home until you have recovered.


Most people who become sick with COVID-19 will only have mild illness and can get better at home. Symptoms might last a few days. People who have the virus might feel better in about a week. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and includes:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.

  • Get plenty of rest.

  • Avoid running, strenuous or high impact activities and exercise until you are well.

  • Eat when you feel able to.

  • If you cannot stop vomiting or have bad diarrhoea, talk to your GP.


COVID-19 antivirals are available for eligible patients to treat COVID-19 infection.  They reduce the amount of virus in your body and may help you become less sick and stay out of hospital.

Eligible patients include: 

  • Māori or Pacific people aged 50 or over 

  • Everyone aged 65 or over

  • People with high risk conditions

Further information on eligibility and access to these medicines is available here 

Talk to your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or health provider if you think that you, or a member of your whānau may be eligible for antiviral medicines. 

The preferred COVID-19 antiviral medicine available in Aotearoa New Zealand is Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir with ritonavir). To be effective, Paxlovid must be started within 5 days of your symptoms starting.

Most people who have COVID-19 will experience a mild illness and can safely manage their own symptoms and recovery at home. Antivirals are ONLY used to treat people who are at risk of severe illness with COVID-19.

Home remedies

Everyone will have a different experience in their recovery from COVID-19. It is important that you listen to your body, take it easy and avoid any strenuous exercise until you’ve been cleared by your healthcare team.



Aches and pains

Paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with fever, headaches, and body aches.

Blocked or runny nose or cough

Nasal sprays, decongestants, lozenges or cough mixtures.

Sore throat

Suck a teaspoon of honey or gargle with salt water. Alternatively, try medicated lozenges, gargle or throat spray.

Vomiting and diarrhoea

Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

How long does it last?

Those with a mild case of COVID-19 usually recover in one to two weeks. For severe cases, recovery can take six weeks or more.

When should I see a doctor?

Most people who get COVID-19 should be able to manage their symptoms safely at home. It is important to keep an eye on symptoms, particularly if they seem to be getting worse, and get help straight away if needed.

Call 111 immediately if you or someone in your household:

  • has trouble breathing, or is experiencing shortness of breath

  • has severe chest pain

  • feels faint or dizzy or becomes unconscious. 

Tell them you or someone in your household has COVID-19 when you call, so the paramedics can care for you safely. 

Proactive protection

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone aged 5 and over. They’re also available to tamariki from 6 months who are at greater risk of severe illness if they were to get COVID-19.

Click here to book a COVID-19 vaccine.

Additional booster doses

Regardless of how many boosters you have had, you can get an additional booster now if you are: 

  • aged 30 and over  

  • pregnant, and aged 16 or over 

  • aged 12 to 29 and at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19

Find out more about boosters

Other protective measures

  • Wear a mask 

  • Wash your hands

  • Stay home and isolate if you’re sick

What are Tend's COVID-19 in-clinic precautions?

Those who book an in-clinic appointment will be contacted prior to your appointment to run through some screening questions for respiratory symptoms: runny nose, sore throat, cough or fever.

Patients with no respiratory symptoms:

Medical masks will remain available to patients in clinic waiting rooms, reception areas, and in clinic rooms. However, if you have no respiratory symptoms then wearing a mask is optional.

Patients with respiratory symptoms

You'll be asked to wear a mask upon arrival if you have respiratory symptoms. 

Clinically reviewed by: Dr Mataroria Lyndon
Date of review: 20th August 2023