Coronavirus: Health New Zealand announces major change to COVID-19 health advice

Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora has announced a major change to COVID-19 health advice, revealing household contacts of a positive case are no longer asked to test unless they develop symptoms.   

Health NZ confirmed on Monday morning the previously recommended health advice of testing for five days consecutively was changing.  

The health agency said only people who develop one or more COVID symptoms are recommended to stay at home and RAT test for coronavirus.   

"This change in advice for household contacts aligns with broader public health guidance that advises RAT testing is generally not recommended unless a person has COVID-19 symptoms," said Becky Jenkins, Director Protection, National Public Health Service.   

"This is because a person who is symptomatic will get a more reliable RAT result."  

But Jenkins said at any point if someone tests positive, it's then recommended they isolate for at least 5 days, starting at Day 0 - even if they only have mild symptoms and they have had COVID-19 before.   

The new health advice comes after the agency confirmed at the end of January free RATs would continue to be available to the public and health and disability sector up until the end of June.   

"With COVID-19 still circulating in the community and continuing to impact hospital admission rates, testing for COVID-19 with RATs remains an important tool to help manage the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the impact on our health system and our communities," Jenkins said.   

"We strongly encourage people to make the most of the continued free access to RATs, and to keep testing if they feel unwell or think they may have COVID-19."   

Participating RAT collection sites can be found at or by calling free on 0800 222 478 and choosing option 1.  

No decisions have been made regarding the supply of RATs beyond June.