Testing for COVID-19

Widespread testing of people with cold or flu-like symptoms (even mild) is vital to track and slow the spread of COVID-19.

This page helps you understand what to expect before and after getting tested for COVID-19.

Before getting tested for COVID-19

It is important to get tested if you have or have had any of the following symptoms in the past 7 days, even mild:

  • fever (or signs of fever, including chills or night sweats)
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • sore/itchy throat
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of taste or smell.

If you become very unwell or have difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

For information regarding testing requirements of Essential Travellers, please see Essential Travellers.

Testing is also encouraged for:

  • Health and aged care workers displaying symptoms
  • Symptomatic household members of healthcare and aged care workers
  • Close contacts of confirmed cases between days 10-12 from their last contact with the confirmed case
  • People quarantining in government-designated accommodation on days 5 and 12 of their quarantine period
  • Tasmanians in home quarantine on day 12 of their quarantine period.

In line with national guidelines, patients being discharged from hospitals to residential aged care facilities no longer need to be tested, if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 test involves a healthcare worker taking samples with a swab from your nose and throat. The swabs will be sent away for testing.

To protect themselves when they are in close contact with you, healthcare workers will wear protective equipment, including a facemask and safety goggles.

While some testing sites require bookings to be made, some mobile sites can provide drive up testing without bookings.

Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics

These clinics are best for people at higher risk of having COVID-19, including:

  • healthcare, aged care and residential care workers or staff with direct patient contact
  • people who travelled outside Tasmania or had close contact with a confirmed case within 14 days of developing symptoms
  • people in quarantine.

The Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics provide sample collection (testing) services only. Staff at the clinics do not provide health assessments or management of symptoms.

Results are usually provided within 48 hours.

These clinics will test children under 18.

These clinics are free, including for people who are not covered by Medicare.

DatesLocationBookingsNotes
Daily

Hobart

Launceston

Booking required - call Public Health Hotline: 1800 671 738On premises testing
8:30am - 3:30pm dailyDevonport, East Devonport Recreation Centre (67 Caroline Street)No booking required 
Burnie, West Park, 'The Point' (10 Bass Highway)

Mobile testing clinics

COVID-19 testing in rural and regional areas is available through our mobile testing clinics. Note, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, don't wait for the mobile testing clinic to come to your area. Phone 1800 671 738 to arrange testing as early as possible.

Details of future mobile testing clinics to be advised.

GP-led respiratory clinics funded by the Australian Government

These clinics are for people who have mild-to-moderate cold and flu symptoms. They provide assessment, testing, and initial treatment of symptoms.

These clinics are free, including for people who are not covered by Medicare.

They are the best option for people who need to see a GP but can't see their own, and for children under the age of five.

There are three clinics across the state, located at:

You don’t need a doctor’s referral to go to these free clinics, but you do need to make an appointment. Don’t just turn up.

You can make an appointment in two ways:

  1. By phoning the clinic nearest to you
  2. By booking online via the HotDoc website.

Results are usually provided within 48 hours. For more information go to the Primary Health Tasmania website.

Your local GP

It is a good idea to discuss testing with your usual GP.

Some GPs are doing COVID-19 sample collection/testing themselves; others may see you via telehealth and refer you for testing if required or suggest you make an appointment. GPs may charge for a consultation.

You will need to check with your GP if they test children under 18.

Results are usually provided within 2-4 days.

Do you have a disability that might affect you being tested?

Please let your GP or the Public Health Hotline know if you have access difficulties so they can refer you to the most appropriate clinic or arrange an alternative testing process.

It’s important to protect others.

If you are being tested because you have symptoms and there is a higher risk of you having COVID-19, please don’t travel to the clinic by bus, taxi or ride-sharing service. People at higher risk of having COVID-19 include:

  • people who have had close contact with a confirmed case in the previous 14 days
  • people who have travelled outside Tasmania in the previous 14 days
  • health and aged care workers who have symptoms of COVID-19.

If you don’t have your own transport, tell your GP or the Public Health Hotline when you make your appointment and ask for help getting to the testing clinic.

If you are being tested because you have symptoms but are not at higher risk of having COVID-19, then it’s best to travel by private car but it’s OK to travel by public transport (bus, taxis or rideshare etc) if you need to.

When travelling to get tested:

  • wear a facemask to protect others
  • before leaving home, make sure you and people travelling with you wash their hands well, with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand rub if hands are not visibly dirty)
  • maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5m between people
  • sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing
  • go straight to the GP or testing clinic – don't stop on the way there or back.

If another person drives you to get tested, please protect them:

  • Minimise the number of people in the car – its best if its just the driver and you.
  • Avoid physical contact with the driver – keep at least 1.5 metres whenever possible.
  • Sit in the back seat opposite the driver.
  • Your driver does not need to quarantine with you but should be alert for any cold or flu-like symptoms and isolate themselves and arrange testing straight away if symptoms develop.

After getting tested for COVID-19

While you wait for your results it is important that you:

  • Stay at home. Self-isolate at home while you wait for your results and don’t go to work, school, shops or any other social gatherings.
    • If you need help with supplies or essential tasks outside your home, ask a friend or family member to help. Tell them to leave supplies at your door. If don’t have someone to help you, call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for support.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. If you don’t have a tissue, use the inside of your elbow. Put used tissues in the rubbish straight away and wash your hands.
  • Keep 1.5 metres (two large steps) away from other people or wear a mask. If you share your home, consider if you or other members of your household can stay elsewhere, especially if they are elderly or have underlying medical conditions, including diagnosed conditions affecting their immunity. If this isn’t possible:
    • Stay at least 1.5 metres (two big steps) away from other household members. Wear a facemask if you need to be closer to household members.
    • Sleep in a separate bed and use a separate bathroom if you can.
    • Keep personal items (like towels, face washers and toothbrushes) separate.
    • Do not share food or drinks.
    • Stay away from shared spaces, like the kitchen (a shared garden is okay).
  • Do not have visitors while in self-isolation (even if they are also in self-isolation or quarantine). Tell family, friends and neighbours not to visit. Consider putting a note on your door to let people know.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (alcohol-based hand rub is OK if your hands do not look dirty). Viruses can survive for a short time on surfaces and spread through hand contact.
  • Know when and how to seek further help.
    • If you get very sick or have trouble breathing, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. Tell them you may have COVID-19.
    • If you feel stressed or anxious while you wait for your results, talk with someone. Lifeline has set up a new service to help Tasmanians effected by COVID-19. Call 1800 984 434 from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, 7 days.

Do the people I live with have to stay at home too?

No. The people you live with don’t need to stay at home unless they also have symptoms of COVID-19 or are in quarantine because they recently arrived in Tasmania or had contact with someone known to have COVID-19.

How will I get the result and what happens then?

It usually takes a day or two to get the result.

If your result is positive, Public Health Services will phone you to talk with you about what to do. The people you live with will then be considered ‘close contacts’ and will need to stay at home.

If your result is negative, you will get a text message or your doctor will phone you. If your symptoms have stopped (and you haven’t recently arrived in Tasmania or spent time with someone known to have COVID-19), you can then leave home isolation. You still need to follow the rules in place for the whole community.

See I’ve been tested, I have symptoms but I’m not in quarantine. Now what? for more information.

Can I go out or have visitors while I wait for the result?

No. Only leave your home/property or hotel in an emergency or to access essential, urgent medical care where it cannot be provided through telehealth or over the phone.

Don’t go to work, school, a place of worship, the shop, pharmacy or servo. Do not have visitors, even if they are in quarantine as well.

If you are in hotel quarantine you can leave your room to use special quarantine areas in the hotel, for example to exercise, if this is arranged and booked through hotel staff.

Even if you feel ok, you might have the virus that causes COVID-19. You could pass the virus to people around you and some people might get very sick.

If you need help, call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

If my result is negative, can I go out?

No. Even if your result is negative, you must stay at home or in your hotel for 14 days from arriving in Tasmania or spending time with someone known to have COVID-19.

A negative result only shows you did not have enough virus in your body to show up when the sample was taken. It often takes around five days for the virus to start showing up; it can take up to 14 days.

If you have the virus but it hasn’t spread enough in your body to show up yet, the result will be negative. A day or so later, your result might be positive.

You can pass the virus to others even if you feel ok.

If you leave your home/hotel, you may put others at risk and be fined or face up to 6 months in jail.

How will I get the result?

It takes a day or two to get the result. If your result is positive, Public Health will call to tell you what to do. If your result is negative, you will get a text message (unless your doctor did your test, then you will get a text message or your GP will call you).

If I finish my time in quarantine but haven’t got my test result, can I still leave?

If you have symptoms, please wait until you get the result before leaving your hotel/home.

If you don’t have symptoms and have finished your time in quarantine, you can leave your home or hotel, even if you are still waiting on your result.

What if I need to see a doctor or get medication prescribed by my doctor?

If you need prescription medication, arrange this with your pharmacist. You might need to ask your doctor to send the prescription to your pharmacy. Ask the pharmacist if they can deliver the medication to you or ask a friend or family member to help. If you need help, call 1800 671 738.

If you need to see a doctor or have a healthcare appointment, phone first and tell them you are in quarantine. Ask if its safe for your appointment to be postponed or done over the phone. If necessary and arranged with your healthcare provider, you can leave quarantine for:

  • antenatal appointments (if you are pregnant)
  • urgent specialist or outpatient clinic appointments
  • urgent appointments with your doctor
  • urgent and emergency transport to hospital.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The two most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • fever (or chills, night sweats)
  • cough.

Other symptoms include:

  • sore throat
  • headache
  • change in taste
  • vomiting
  • shortness of breath
  • muscle/joint pain
  • loss of sense of smell
  • diarrhoea
  • runny nose
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea (feeling sick).

Can I get tested again?

Yes, if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (even mild), please get tested. Get tested every time you get symptoms, even if you had a negative result before.

If you are in quarantine at home, you will be offered testing on day 12 of your quarantine. You can leave home to get tested but must travel straight there and back.

If you are in hotel quarantine, you will be offered testing on day 5 and 12, at your hotel.

If I get symptoms after my 14 days in quarantine, what should I do?

If you get any symptoms of COVID-19, even mild, any time, please get tested, even if you’ve been tested before. Call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for advice. Tell them you were in quarantine.

What if my result is positive?

COVID-19 is serious, but most people recover at home after a week or two without needing to go to hospital.

If your result is positive, a nurse or doctor from Public Health Services will call you.

They will talk with you about how you feel and the care you need. If there are people living with you, they will also talk with you about how to protect them.

They will also talk with your doctor about your care, if you are okay with that, and may ask other doctors to help with your care.

Unless you need to go to hospital, Public Health will phone you every day to check how you are.

See I’m in quarantine and I’ve been tested for COVID-19. Now what? for more information.

Sometimes, Public Health Services will ask people to agree to get tested even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and are not in quarantine.

If this is you, you don’t need to self-isolate while you wait for the result.

You can go about your normal daily routine and continue to follow the rules in place for the whole community. See I don’t have
symptoms and I’m not in quarantine, but I’ve been tested for COVID-19. Now what?
If for more information.

If you were tested at a Tasmanian Health Service Respiratory Clinic and your result is negative, you will either get a text message from ‘Tas Health’ or, if you don’t have a mobile phone or ask not to be notified by text, you will receive a phone call to inform you of your result.

If your result is negative, you do not need to self-isolate any longer unless Public Health has told you to stay in quarantine because you might have been exposed to the virus. If you are still sick you should still protect others from whatever germ is causing your illness. Stay at home as much as you can.

You should still follow the rules in place for the whole community to slow the spread of illness.

If your result is positive, Public Health Services will phone you to talk about the next steps.

If you have any questions or need advice about your test result, phone the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738. Listen to the menu options and select the 'Calling in relation to your test results' option.

If you were tested by your GP or at a GP-led Respiratory Clinic, they will contact you directly with positive and negative results. If your result is positive, Public Health Services will also phone you to talk about the next steps.

General

Testing people for COVID-19 is important to stop the spread of the disease in the community. Testing identifies people who have the virus, and isolating those people stops them passing it on.

To be most effective, the focus of testing in Australia – especially in areas where the virus is not spreading in the community – is on people who have any cold or flu-like symptoms, even mild. When COVID-19 is not spreading in the community, testing people without symptoms is not an efficient or effective way to find rare cases.

The main reason for targeting people with symptoms is that they are more likely to have COVID-19 than people without symptoms. People with symptoms are also more likely to pass the virus on to other people than those who don’t.

Sometimes testing is recommended for people who don’t have symptoms. For example, if there is an outbreak, people who may be at risk in the same setting or community (including healthcare workers and aged care workers) may be targeted for testing, along with contacts of confirmed cases.

Tasmania’s approach to testing people for COVID-19 is like the approach used interstate and is based on recommendations from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. That Committee is made up of Chief Health Officers from around Australia and is the main national expert committee advising on COVID-19 in Australia. That committee itself is advised by groups of national experts on communicable disease control and laboratory testing.

People from overseas, such as travellers and people with temporary visas, who get sick in Australia and are not eligible for Medicare often have health or travel insurance.

For people who do not have adequate insurance, the Tasmanian Government will waive the costs of treatment and testing for COVID-19 provided by Tasmanian Government services. This includes waiving costs for ambulance transfers for people suspected to have COVID-19 who are taken to Tasmanian public hospitals for assessment. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure costs of services does not stop people from overseas with symptoms of COVID-19 seeking early medical advice.

People not covered by Medicare who have cold or flu-like symptoms will be seen and tested (if needed) at no cost at a GP-led respiratory clinic.

People not covered by Medicare who see their local GP should discuss the cost of services with the provider.

COVID-19 test information is only used for public health purposes and has no influence on your visa status. The Tasmanian Government’s sole concerns are for your health and to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.