Do I need to be tested and what does it involve?
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Sam, coronavirus patient

For me that runny nose it was absolutely the first thing that happened. It wouldn't have been any more than 12 hours later I was on the couch with those really strong flu-like symptoms.The body aches, the chills, the fever.

Who should get tested?

If you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should seek advice and get tested.

People with no symptoms can also be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) in very specific circumstances:

  • if they are a close contact exposed to someone known to have coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • as part of an outbreak investigation and response by the Department of Health and Human Services
  • if they are a returned international traveller
  • if they are due to have surgery or a planned hospital stay
  • if they are part of a targeted testing program across an industry or group.

For more information read the factsheet for who can get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).

What are the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Fever
  • Chills or sweats
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Loss or change in sense of smell or taste.

In certain circumstances headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also be considered.

To get further advice, call the 24-hour coronavirus hotline 1800 675 398, your local doctor, or use our online self-assessment tool.

What if I feel tired or fatigued?

Feeling tired or fatigued is common during many illnesses, including coronavirus (COVID-19). If you are feeling tired and have any of the symptoms above, you should get further advice about testing for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Why should I get tested?

Diagnosing coronavirus (COVID-19) early, even when symptoms are mild, helps us to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Testing helps us track the spread of the virus and keep our families and communities safe.

Getting tested means that you can take informed action to protect yourself and your loved ones. You will be doing your part to protect all Victorians.

Before the test

I have symptoms. When should I get tested?

As soon as you have any of the symptoms, however mild, get tested as soon as you can, preferably that same day.

You must not leave your home for any reason other than getting a test, except in an emergency.

How do I go out to get tested?

If possible, you should attend the testing clinic closest to your home and avoid using public transport, taxis or rideshare services.

After your test, you must immediately return home and stay at home until you receive your test result. This is referred to ‘isolating’ or ‘self-isolating’. You must do this because there is a risk that you could have coronavirus (COVID-19) and infect other people. You must remain in self-isolation at home until you receive a negative test result. You can find more information under ‘After the test’.

For more information, read the factsheet for suspected cases of coronavirus (COVID-19). To get further advice, call the 24-hour coronavirus hotline 1800 675 398 or call your general practitioner.

What do I need to bring with me?

You need to bring your Medicare card and the details of your usual General Practitioner (GP) and/or GP practice, if you have one. 

If you don’t have a Medicare card then bring one form of identification, like your driver’s licence or student ID. 

Is the test free?

Yes, the coronavirus (COVID-19) test is free for everyone. There is no fee for the test when you get tested at a public health facility, mobile testing centre or GP offering bulk billing.

Do visitors from overseas, migrant workers and asylum seekers with symptoms have to pay for testing?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) test is free for everyone. This includes people without a Medicare card, such as visitors from overseas, migrant workers and asylum seekers.

If you have symptoms, you can receive a free test at any Victorian public respiratory clinic below. This does not include general practice (GP) clinics.

Please bring a form of identification and contact details with you to the testing clinic. If you don’t have a Medicare card, please bring one form of identification, for example, your driver’s licence, passport, transport concession card or student ID.

The testing clinic does not need to know your visa status.

For more information, read the Testing for international visitors, migrants and asylum seekers factsheet (Word).

I need to travel overseas. Do I need a pre-departure coronavirus (COVID-19) test? 

If you choose to travel overseas, it is your responsibility to obtain information from your airline about the screening requirements for coronavirus (COVID-19) in your destination country.  

Please also check any current travel restrictions and how to apply for any exemptions at the Smart Traveller website.

You must obtain the appropriate documentation for entry into that country prior to your departure. 

Please arrange a pre-departure coronavirus (COVID-19) test and proof of the results through your GP, travel doctor or the service provider recommended by your airline. 

Advice to travellers:   

  • Check in advance with the airline about the coronavirus (COVID-19) screening requirements for your destination. 
  • Check with the consulate of your destination country to understand any coronavirus (COVID-19) related issues and the documentation you need for entry. 
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will not provide you with the documentation for international travel in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) tests. 

Can I take someone I care for to get tested?

If you usually provide care or assistance to someone who may otherwise have difficulty getting tested, such as an elderly relative, you may take them to a testing centre.

Are you testing for anything other than coronavirus (COVID-19)?

No. The only thing you will be tested for is coronavirus (COVID-19).

Will I have to share details about my visa status?

No. Testers will not ask, and do not need to know, your visa status or the status of those you live with. We are only looking to find out if you might have coronavirus and how we can help keep you and our community safe.

During the test

What does testing involve?

The test takes around a minute and involves taking a sample swab from the back of your throat and nose.

Once the test is complete, your sample is sent to a laboratory and tested to see if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). You will be contacted by your doctor or the clinic who did the test with your results.

If you get tested at a drive-through site, you will be asked to put your car into park and turn off the engine to reduce the amount of fumes for the comfort of you, others queuing and the staff working to help you onsite.

Please consider leaving any pets at home.

Who can perform tests?

At testing sites, test samples will be taken by a trained healthcare worker, usually a doctor or nurse.

After the test

What should I do after getting tested?

After your test, you must return home immediately and stay at home until you receive your test result. This is referred to as ‘self-isolating’. You must do this because there is a risk that you could have coronavirus (COVID-19) and infect other people.

If you are worried you will lose income while you wait for your results, you may be eligible for a $450 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation Payment.

Do not go out to work or to the shops. For more information on self-isolating, see ‘What does quarantine or isolation involve?’ on the Quarantine and isolation page.

If I live with others, do they also need to self-isolate?

There is no need for others in the house to self-isolate unless they are also waiting for a coronavirus (COVID-19) test result.

While in self-isolation, you should:

  • Stay in a different room to other people as much as possible. Sleep in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom if available.
  • You must not allow other people into the home if they don't live there, unless they are there to provide medical care, personal care or urgent household assistance.
  • Ensure you stay at least 1.5 metres away from others in the home, if possible.
  • You are permitted to leave your property to seek medical help or in an emergency.
  • You are not allowed to leave your home to exercise while you are in isolation or quarantine. 

As always, we encourage anyone with symptoms, however mild, to get tested, so if anyone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) they should get tested too.

I have a partner that doesn’t live with me, can I still see them while I am waiting for my test result?

No, you should not see anyone that doesn’t live with you while you are waiting for your test result (self-isolating).

Testing for people without symptoms

There are very specific circumstances where people get tested without symptoms such as close contacts, people who are exposed to a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19), or people due to undergo surgery. Close contacts will be asked to get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) towards the end of their self-isolation period, even if they do not have symptoms, and must continue their self-isolate while waiting for their result. More information on the Quarantine and isolation page.

I don’t have symptoms, but I’ve been tested because I’m having surgery soon. Do I have to self-isolate?

In these cases, you will have received instructions from your general practitioner or surgeon – you need to follow these.