Testing positive to COVID in Victoria means you’ll be spending the next five to seven days isolating. Here are some ways to prepare for managing COVID at home if it happens to you.
1. Make sure you’re up to date with your COVID vaccines
Vaccines are really effective at preventing you getting seriously sick if you do get COVID, and can also make you less contagious to anyone you live with. Check if you’re due for a booster, and find out how to book it.
2. Come up with a house iso plan
Whether you live with your family or in a share house, it’s important to have a conversation about what will happen if someone gets COVID.
- Does anyone have health conditions that would make them more vulnerable? What will you all do to keep them safe? Is there anything you should know about helping them managing their health condition if they get COVID?
- If you live with housemates, does anyone have somewhere else they could go to stay if they needed to (for example, their parent or partner’s house)? Whose only option would be to stay at the house?
- If someone does have the option to stay somewhere else if someone gets COVID, talk about how to prepare for that – how would they get there? Could they pack an overnight bag to keep at that person’s house so they could go straight away?
- If someone doesn’t have the option to isolate anywhere else and gets COVID, is there a part of the house that could be their ‘zone’? For example, could they temporarily take the bedroom with the ensuite, or is there a separate living area they could use so they’re not stuck in their bedroom all the time?
If for some reason there’s no way of avoiding using shared areas, you can try some strategies to make them more COVID-safe.
- Communicate with others in the house about not using a shared area at the same time.
- Disinfect shared surfaces (like handles, taps, light switches or benchtops) and objects after you’ve finished using or touching them.
- Keep the shared area well ventilated before, during and after using it. This can be with open windows and doors, fans, or even buying an air purifier.
3. Prepare basic medical supplies
Some useful things to have are a thermometer, pain relief and any regular medications. Thermometers are useful to help you keep track of if your temperature is in a regular range. But they can also get expensive and aren’t the most COVID-safe thing to share – so if you can, budget to have your own.
If you put aside any medications to have on hand while isolating, know when they expire. You can also set yourself a calendar reminder for when you might need to order new packs.
There is also an option for free delivery of PBS and RPBS medicines through the Home Medicine Service that you’re automatically eligible for if you’re isolating at home because of COVID. You simply have to make an order through your local pharmacy that includes at least one PBS or RPBS medicine – other products can also be delivered with it if they’re included in the same order. Just be sure to order as much of the medicine that you need, because you can only use the service once a month. There’s no extra paperwork, you simply have to contact the pharmacy, say that you’d like to order through the Home Medicine Service, and place your order.
Antiviral medications to treat COVID
If you're immunocompromised, you might be eligible to get antiviral medications that treat COVID prescribed to you by a doctor. These are oral medications you take for a few days, and they can reduce your chance of hospitalisation anywhere between 30% and 80%.
4. Financial assistance
If you’ll be losing some income by isolating, you might be able to get pandemic leave disaster payment if:
- You’ve lost at least 8 hours/a full day’s work
- You have less than $10,000 in savings on the first day of the period you’re claiming for.
This option is not just for people who have got COVID – it’s also available if you’re isolating as a household contact, or you’re caring for someone who’s isolating with COVID.
If you're struggling to pay your electricity, gas or water bills there are relief options you can try.
- Concession and rebates for people with concession cards
- Utility relief grants (you can apply for different grants for different utilities)
- Ask your electricity provider about a payment plan. They're legally required to tell you what support is available, and your power can't be disconnected while you're on a payment plan.
5. Food supplies
If you’re preparing your own meals while you have COVID, they need to be easy to make with low energy levels. Some options to consider:
- Make some of your favourite nutritious meals ahead of time and freeze them.
- Buy meal kits you can keep in the pantry that only require you to add a few fresh ingredients – for example, burrito or curry kits.
- Budget to afford to have a few meals delivered or to grocery shop online. Some supermarkets also offer priority delivery for eligible customers, for example people with health conditions, so check if you’d be eligible.
- If you need speciality foods, for example if you have allergies or diabetes, keep the appropriate dry ingredients stocked.
- Staying hydrated if you get COVID is really important. If you know you struggle remembering to keep sipping water, get some electrolyte drinks, tablets or ice blocks.
If you need food while isolating but can’t afford to order it, or you don’t have someone who could help out by dropping off some groceries, you can get a free food relief package from the Victorian Government. They have basic staples like cereal, long-life milk, sugar, pasta and canned vegetables. These packs also include toiletries like soap, deodorant and toothpaste.
To organise this, call the COVID hotline on 1800 675 398, and select option 5 to be taken through to order an emergency relief pack. This option can only be arranged over the phone, so if you can’t speak over the phone or you’re non-verbal, use the National Relay Service or ask someone to help you.
Another anonymous food relief option is using Ask Izzy to find food supports in your area. These can include community delivered meals, vouchers or meals on wheels.
6. Emergency accommodation
If for some reason you can’t isolate safely at home, you can look at emergency accommodation. One option is hotel quarantine through the government, which is booked through the COVID hotline on 1800 675 398. Again, if a phone call isn’t accessible for you, use the National Relay Service or ask someone to help you.
Another option is Ask Izzy’s housing search to find crisis accommodation in your area. These services are still supposed to help you safely isolate if you have COVID – and if they can’t, they should support you to get a referral to go somewhere else.
Remember, if you’re in a violent home situation or in danger, you’re allowed to leave isolation. See our blog post about domestic and family violence resources for more information.
7. Remember to take care of yourself and lean into your community
Getting COVID and being in iso can have you feeling all sorts of ways. Remember to be gentle with yourself and practise self-care.
It helps to know who your support network is too. Who would be able to drop things off to you? Who could take care of your pet or take it for walks? Who can you rely on to check in when you need it? Having conversations with friends and family about how you can support each other if one of you gets COVID can help you feel less anxious if it does happen.
Managing your health while isolating
It’s important to know what health services you would have access to if you needed them while isolating – not just for COVID-related concerns, but if something else happened to your health while you were in iso.
Find out if your local doctor has a respiratory clinic. This means they have appointment times where they’re set up with PPE and other COVID-safe standards so you can see a doctor face-to-face while you have COVID, for any reason. If your local doctor don’t offer this, work out what your next closest option is.
Other healthcare options if you get COVID include:
- COVID Positive Pathways
- The Victorian Government’s at-home checklist
- Nurse on Call: 1300 606 024 for free health advice over the phone
- Health Direct’s COVID-19 Symptom Checker
- Call Triple Zero 000 in an emergency
For more resources, visit our vaccine information hub.
Last updated 12 September 2022.