Symptoms of COVID-19

Common symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those found with colds or influenza. A person may have one or more of the following common symptoms

  • new or worsening cough
  • sneezing and runny nose 
  • fever
  • temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue/feeling of tiredness.

Less common symptoms of COVID-19 may include diarrhoea, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, malaise, chest pain, abdominal pain, joint pain, or confusion/irritability. These almost always occur with one or more of the common symptoms.

Symptoms tend to arise around two to five days after a person has been infected but can take longer to show. The virus can be passed to others before they know they have it-from up to two days before symptoms develop,

Other conditions that require urgent assessment and management should always be considered as possible diagnoses alongside COVID-19.

Case definitions

  • For information, please visit the COVID-19 Chapter in the Communicable Disease Control Manual

Guidance on testing

The COVID-19 Testing Plan for Aotearoa/New Zealand sets out how testing will support our COVID-19 response.  The COVID-19 Testing Guidance provides testing advice to health care professionals.

With regards to testing in long Covid, current guidelines do not support any specific testing at this stage.

Taking a clinical specimen for COVID-19 and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) use

For guidance on how to take nasopharyngeal, and oropharyngeal + anterior nasal specimens for COVID-19, and the correct PPE to use see COVID-19: Infection prevention and control recommendations for health and disability care workers.

Information on rapid antigen testing below:

Notification of cases

Most people will upload their RAT results via My Health Record. Attending medical practitioners should ensure that supervised RAT results are also uploaded. A GP can notify a positive RAT test via their Patient Management System (PMS), via My Health Record or through the 0800 number. PCR results will be uploaded via Eclair.

Guidance on managing cases and contacts

This guidance for health practitioners provides information for assessing and managing COVID-19 cases and contacts

Guidance on long COVID

Most people who get COVID-19 recover fully, but some may go on to develop longer term symptoms from the virus. This is known as long COVID, or for recording purposes is described as:

  • Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19: Signs and symptoms of COVID‑19 from 4 weeks up to 12 weeks
  • Post-COVID-19 syndrome: Signs and symptoms that develop during or after an infection consistent with COVID‑19, continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

A guideline for clinical rehabilitation for people with long COVID provides an evidence-based summary that describes a current understanding of post COVID symptoms.

Along with the full guideline there is a summary of the resources available for individuals and clinicians, and a symptom map to assist with clinical assessment of individuals presenting with long COVID symptoms.