Ever wondered what happens when you receive a positive COVID-19 test result?

WSLHD COVID testing clinic at Emerton.

More than 840,000 western Sydney residents have been tested for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic – and for over 770 of them, their result was positive.

If your test result returns negative, you will receive an SMS text message with the good news.

If your test result is positive, you’ll receive a phone call – either from the GP who referred you to a COVID-19 testing centre or the Public Health Unit.

So if you are COVID-19 positive, what happens next?

Western Sydney’s Public Health Unit is informed of all positive COVID-19 cases and a public health officer will contact you about your positive result.

What will the Public Health Unit ask me?

When the public health officer phones you, they will ask several questions. Your information is private and confidential. Questions may include:

  • The symptoms you experienced and when you first started to feel unwell
  • Where you’ve been in the 14 days before you became unwell
  • If you’ve been in contact with people or places known to have COVID-19
  • Any pre-existing medical conditions
  • Your detailed movements and recent contact with other people in the last few days, including family members, friends, or work colleagues – this is called contact tracing.

This information is needed to help understand virus spread in the community, and how to stop it from spreading to other people.

This phone call will also cover how to isolate yourself, including how to do this if you are living with other people, and whether you need support with things like groceries.

A follow-up email will provide more advice and tips on what to do or avoid.

A full list of venues of concern in western Sydney can be found here.

How will my health be monitored?

If you are very unwell the public health officer will arrange medical assistance.

People diagnosed with COVID-19 who are not hospitalised receive a daily phone call from a ‘Hospital in the Home’ nurse to monitor your symptoms and any changes to your health. They will help determine when you are clear of the virus.

If your symptoms become serious (for example, shortness of breath at rest or difficulty breathing), you should call 000.

Tell the ambulance staff you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

What about the people I have been in contact with?

Many people diagnosed with COVID-19 worry about their family and friends and wider community.

After your call with the public health officer, they will have identified all the people considered to be your close contacts while you were infectious. Being infectious means that you can spread the virus to other people.

A close contact is somebody who:

  • Has had any  face-to-face interaction with a confirmed positive COVID-19 case during their infectious period; or
  • Has been in a closed space for an hour or more  with a confirmed positive COVID-19 case during their infectious period.

The infectious period for a positive COVID-19 case is 48 hours before they first experienced symptoms. 

A public health officer will telephone your close contacts to discuss the situation with them. This is part of the contact tracing process.

Close contacts will be advised to get a COVID test and self-isolate at home for the next 14 days. They will be asked to get re-tested seven days and then twelve days  after their contact with the COVID-19 case. They should always get re-rested if they experience any symptoms.

They will also receive a phone call or an SMS every 1-3 days from NSW Health who monitor their symptoms during their isolation period. At the end of isolation, NSW Health calls them to confirm they can be released.

What if I live with other people?

The Public Health Unit will discuss your living arrangements and whether you can effectively self-isolate from other people in your household.

They will also identify anyone in your household who is at greater risk of illness such as someone who is elderly or immunosuppressed.

If you can’t effectively self-isolate, alternative accommodation for you or the people you live with will be arranged. If you have a child who you can’t self-isolate from, they will need to isolate with you.

The Public Health Unit will also advise whether the people you live with are close contacts and will need to self-isolate too.

How do I cope with self-isolation?

There are many thing you can do to keep occupied in self isolation.

These include:

  • Talk to the other members of your family about COVID-19 to reduce anxiety.
  • Keep up a normal daily routine at home as much as possible.
  • Keep in touch with family members and friends via phone, email or social media.
  • Exercise regularly at home. Options could include exercise DVDs, dancing, floor exercises, yoga, walking around the backyard or using home exercise equipment, such as a stationary bicycle if you have one. Exercise is a proven treatment for stress and depression.
  • Arrange with your employer to work from home, if possible. Think about how you have coped with difficult situations in the past and reassure yourself that you will cope with this situation too. Remember that self-isolation won’t last for long.

If you need further support please contact:

If you want more information on COVID-19, please visit www.nsw.gov.au/covid19 or call the National Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080

Get tested

It is important to get tested if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19. 

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore/scratchy throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

There are over 30 testing clinics in western Sydney and more than 350 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week.

To find your nearest clinic visit here or contact your GP.

To book your COVID-19 vaccination, go to www.nsw.gov.au or visit the Australian Government’s Vaccine Eligibility Checker online.