COVID-19 symptoms vary widely. Some people have mild symptoms for the most part of the illness but others may notice their lung (respiratory) symptoms start to get worse, especially older people and people who have other conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, asthma or diabetes.
How ill you get will vary depending on your vaccination status and risk of developing serious illness. Due to NZ's high rate of vaccination and the booster program underway it's likely most people will only experience mild/moderate symptoms. As the Omicron outbreak becomes more widespread most people with mild to moderate symptoms will be expected to self-manage their illness at home, or in suitable accommodation, with support from their local healthcare providers only as needed. It is important that you keep track of your symptoms and contact your doctor or health provider right away if you become more unwell as some people may require hospital admission.
See How to self-manage COVID-19
Common symptoms: include fever (high temperature), tiredness, coughing/sneezing and loss of sense of taste or smell. Less common symptoms are sore throat, headache, aches and pain, diarrhoea (runny poo), a rash and red or irritated eyes.
Track your symptoms: filling out a Symptom Diary helps keep track of how you are feeling and whether you are getting better, staying the same, or getting worse - download one here. The information you record in your symptom diary will be useful to share with your health provider if you become more unwell. Things you may want to record include:
- How you are feeling
- Your temperature (if you have access to a thermometer)
- Your pulse oximeter readings (if you have access to one)
- Your heart rate (pulse) (if you have access to a pulse oximeter)
- Your breathing rate
- Any new symptoms you have
Treating symptoms at home:
- Bed rest (if lying down, change position every 30 minutes to two hours)
- Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve headaches, aches and fevers
- Keeping hydrated with regular sips of water
- Honey or lozenges for a sore throat
- Decongestants for a blocked nose
- Continue to take your regular medication. Some people will be prescribed medication to reduce their chance of needing hospital care. Most people will recover within 2 weeks, but others may have persistent symptoms for months
How long do symptoms last?: Usually as long as the common cold or flu, though they may last longer (up to 4 weeks). Days 5-10 of COVID-19 are often the most worrisome time for respiratory (lung) complications, particularly for older patients and those with underlying conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes.
What if symptoms get worse? This table provides some general guidance on what to do. Fill in the contact information for your health care team and keep this page handy. If you become more unwell, somebody else can help make a decision about what to do for you. You can also call the COVID-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453.