Signs and symptoms

Where is the latest guidance about symptoms and treatment of COVID-19

Reviewed 27 January 2021

The Ministry of Health website has the latest guidance for health professionals about the symptoms and treatment of COVID-19. Members are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the advice found on this site.  

The Ministry of Health has contracted the National Telehealth Service to provide a dedicated COVID-19 telephone advice line for you and your colleagues. The number is 0800 177 622, and offers clinical support and advice Monday to Saturday 8am -7pm (with the exception of public holidays).

Callers will receive general advice about management of COVID-19, peer review of presenting problems, and advice on specialist referral or connection to other services. The service is not a source of information about or access to equipment, staffing or funding which are managed through the usual channels.


What is the case definition of COVID-19?

Reviewed 21 January 2021

The Ministry of Health is responsible for reviewing, updating and publishing the case definition of COVID-19.

You can find the current case definition here.


How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

Reviewed 15 October 2020

There is no conclusive evidence on how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected. Current World Health Organisation assessments suggest that the time between contracting the virus and seeing symptoms of the virus varies between 1 – 12.5 days, with median estimates of 5– 6 days between infection and symptoms.

The incubation period for the virus is considered to be 14 days. This means if you have not had symptoms within 14 days after possible exposure, you are unlikely to have the virus.

Evidence around the new variants are rapidly emerging but it is predicted they are the same.


What are people with COVID-19 symptoms being advised to do?

Reviewed 21 January 2021

People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy have been advised to self-isolate and contact their medical provider or a COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.

People with fever, cough or difficulty breathing have been advised to call their GP and seek medical attention.

People with these symptoms who have recently been overseas, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19, are being advised to call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or their doctor.