What to do if you have COVID-19

Everyone who gets COVID-19 will experience it a little differently. Our bodies will respond to the virus in a different way. For most Queenslanders, the virus will cause only a mild illness with symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of taste and loss of smell.

After a positive diagnosis, you will generally need to go to a hospital. Some people who have mild illness may be admitted to Hospital in the Home Service, which provides the same quality of care you would receive in hospital but in your home or another selected location.

Home treatment and isolation

You need to stay in a room away from others while you get better, so you don’t give the virus to anyone else. Read more about how to isolate.

If you are recovering with the virus at home, it’s important to get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and eat well when you can.

Your doctor may have given you advice about medicines you can take to help with your symptoms. It’s important to only take medicines your doctor has recommended.

What happens if my symptoms get worse?

If you start to feel sicker, contact your doctor or call 134 COVID (134 268) to speak to a registered nurse – you can use this service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When to call an ambulance

You should always call an ambulance if:

  • you are experiencing severe symptoms, like shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • you think it’s an emergency
  • you think your life or someone else’s life is in danger.

Call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. If you can, explain to the operator that you have COVID-19.

When can I leave isolation?

Your healthcare provider will advise you when you are no longer infectious and can come out of isolation. There are additional requirements for healthcare and aged care workers.

Hospital treatment

Some people who have COVID-19, particularly people who are elderly or have pre-existing health conditions like heart disease, diabetes or asthma, could experience serious symptoms and side effects. Sometimes these can be life-threatening.

Serious symptoms and side effects of COVID-19 can include:

  • pneumonia – an infection of the lungs which can make it hard to breathe
  • bacterial infection – a secondary infection caused by bacteria
  • sepsis – a life-threatening condition that happens when the body’s response to an infection damages healthy tissue and organs.

If you are really sick, or at higher risk of getting really sick because of your age or pre-existing health condition, you may be treated in hospital. To prevent the spread of the virus, you may not be allowed to have visitors. The hospital staff treating you will wear special equipment so they don’t catch the virus.

The length of your stay will depend on how unwell you are – it might be days or weeks until you are well enough to go home.

If you are severely unwell, you might be treated in the Intensive Care Unit. This may require you to be transferred to a different hospital.

When can I leave hospital?

Your healthcare provider will advise you when you are no longer infectious and can come out of isolation. There are additional requirements for healthcare and aged care workers.

How long will symptoms from the virus last?

For some people, symptoms of the virus may last between days and weeks and may get worse over time. People with severe symptoms or side effects from the virus may take weeks or months to fully recover. Other people with a mild illness may feel completely better within a week or two.

Even if your symptoms are mild you should remain in isolation for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started, up until you are at least 72 hours symptom-free.

What can I do to stop the spread of COVID-19?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you might be concerned about spreading the virus to others. The best thing you can do is isolate properly if you are at home, and follow the instructions given to everyone about hygiene.

Every Queenslander should be following these steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • wash your hands often and properly
  • try not to touch your face
  • stand 1.5 metres away from others
  • don’t go out when you are sick, even if you have not been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Looking after your mental health during treatment

Support is available if you are concerned about COVID-19 or are distressed because you are in isolation or in hospital.

Visit the Head to Health website for:

  • links to mental health online and phone support
  • resources and services that can help if you’re experiencing mental health concerns or trying to support someone else.