COVID-19 isolation

People who have COVID-19 (also called 'cases') are required to isolate to avoid spreading the virus to other people.

People who are close contacts of cases are required to isolate because there is a chance they could also develop COVID-19. Asymptomatic close contacts are permitted to leave isolation if they meet certain requirements.

People in the same household as a close contact do not need to isolate but it is recommended that they take extra precautions, where appropriate (e.g. opting to wear a mask at social gatherings), and should monitor for symptoms.  

If you have recovered from COVID-19 (diagnosed by RAT or PCR) your isolation requirement will be affected by the time since your recovery. 

See the testing and isolation protocols on the COVID-19 testing page for more information.

How do I isolate safely?

You can leave isolation (as a case or close contact) to:

  • seek urgent medical care at a hospital for you or someone else at the isolation location
  • escape an immediate threat to your safety
  • travel home (if away) or to an alternative premise to complete your isolation if it is necessary to do so.

You can leave isolation (as a close contact) to:

  • get a COVID-19 test at a testing clinic
  • obtain a rapid antigen test (RAT).

You can leave isolation as a close contact (if you have no symptoms) to:

  • collect your methadone or buprenorphine medication from a pharmacy

You can also leave isolation as a close contact (if you have no symptoms) for any reason if, before leaving your isolation location on any day during your isolation period, you have obtained a negative result from a rapid antigen test undertaken on that day. You must:

  • be able to provide photographic evidence of a negative result from a rapid antigen test taken by you on that day
  • wear a mask from the time you leave home until you return
  • avoid high-risk settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings, disability and aged care facilities, and correctional facilities
  • avoid non-essential gatherings and contact with people at risk of severe illness
  • work from home, where possible.

You must be able to comply with all legal requirements when leaving your isolation accommodation for any of the above reasons. This includes wearing a mask at all times, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, washing your hands often, and travelling by the most direct route and not using public transport. You can walk, cycle, use your own private vehicle or ride in the back of a taxi or rideshare vehicle.

Protect the people you live/share accommodation with

General advice to stay safe

  • Stay and sleep in a separate room.
  • Avoid contact with others while using bathroom or kitchen facilities.
  • Avoid other common areas (e.g. dining room or lounge room) when other people are in them.
  • Wear a mask in shared areas or when caring for other members of your household and stay at least 1.5m from others.
  • Clean surfaces when finished with detergent and disinfectant.
  • Wash kitchen utensils in the dishwasher or thoroughly with hot soapy water after you have used them.
  • Handle your own laundry and use the hottest setting available on the washing machine.
  • Avoid any other contact (including touching, kissing, hugging and intimate contact).
  • Open doors and windows to let fresh air in if safe to do so and weather permits.

Caring for others

If you are the parent of young children or provide care for someone you are living with, it may not be possible to meet all the recommendations to minimise contact. It is important to try and attempt what is practical and safe. For example, always wear a mask while caring for others in your household.

Living with people who are at greater risk of serious illness

Take extra care to remain separate from any members of your household who are elderly, immunocompromised or have medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney problems.

Frequently asked questions

Do people who have already had COVID-19 need to isolate if they are a close contact?

People who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 4 weeks and are told they are a close contact do not need to isolate again.

If people are identified as a close contact after this 4 week period, they will need to follow guidance on the close contacts page, including testing and isolation requirements. 

I have had COVID-19 and isolated for 5 complete days. My school/workplace is insisting on a negative PCR/RAT result before I return from isolation. WA Health advice is that testing is not required. Can I tell my school/workplace that they can’t insist on a test result?

Yes. The WA Health testing and isolation protocols state: If no symptoms are present after Day 5, you can leave isolation. No testing or clearance is required from WA Health. 

However, people who test positive to COVID-19 must not enter high-risk settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings, and disability, mental health and aged care residential facilities, for at least 7 days after the time they test positive.

I need to travel from one address (e.g. my holiday accommodation) to another (e.g. my home in Perth) during my isolation period. How should I manage that?

You should only travel if you are well enough and it is safe to do so. Refer to the COVID-safe travel in WA webpage for more information.

I have nowhere to isolate. What should I do?

When you isolate, you must stay at your home or accommodation.

Cases and close contacts who do not have suitable premises to isolate should seek alternative short-term rental accommodation.

If unsuccessful, people can contact 13 COVID (13 268 43) for referral to SWICC (State Welfare Incident Coordination Centre) for help identifying alternative options. 

I am in isolation and need emergency medical or dental care. What should I do?

When you are in isolation, you must stay at your home or accommodation, except in an emergency.

Many GPs offer telehealth appointments. If your medical need can be addressed by a phone call with a GP and is not an emergency that requires an ambulance, consider scheduling a telehealth appointment.

If you feel your symptoms become worse, but are not life-threatening, contact your GP, healthdirect (external site) on1800 022 222, or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

If you leave isolation to travel to a hospital emergency department, use a private vehicle or share ride service. Do not use public transport.

See emergency and crisis medical care providers.

If you have a medical emergency (e.g. you experience shortness of breath at rest, have difficulty breathing or your symptoms suddenly become worse), call 000 for an ambulance. Tell the telephone operator and paramedics who arrive at your residence that you have COVID-19/are a COVID-19 close contact.

I need emergency help to isolate. Who can help?

Close contacts and confirmed cases should isolate at home or other suitable accommodation.

If you do not have suitable premises to isolate, seek alternative accommodation (such as short-term rental accommodation providers).

If unsuccessful in finding a place to isolate, or if you don’t have the finances to rent short term accommodation, you can contact 13 COVID (13 268 43) for referral to SWICC (State Welfare Incident Coordination Centre) for help in identifying alternative options.

SWICC is part of the Department of Communities, which coordinates emergency welfare services across Western Australia under the State Emergency Welfare Plan.

I live in a shared facility (such as a boarding house, backpacker accommodation, refuge, ADF barracks, high density apartments or caravan park). Are these suitable facilities to isolate?

A shared living facility is referred to by WA Health as a congregate living facility. Information on Congregate living and large households Safe isolation for cases and close contacts is available.

COVID-19 in the workplace – Information for employers and employees (external site).

If you are a COVID-19 close contact and a resident of the facility, and have been advised to isolate, check the factsheet, what to do if you are a COVID-19 close contact.

It is the responsibility of the facility to undertake a risk assessment to determine if residents can safely isolate onsite or whether you need to be moved to more appropriate accommodation.

The facility may cohort (separate into groups) residents (onsite or offsite) to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The facility should assist with essential services for residents onsite (food delivery, laundry services, medicines and waste management.

The facility should continue usual care of residents – primary health, psychosocial and usual supports (if possible), including for people relocated to off-site locations.

If your residence is not considered suitable for isolating and the manager is unable to provide alternative accommodation for residents, the manager can seek assistance from SWICC by calling 13 COVID (13 268 43) for assistance.

I am a household close contact in a congregate living facility. How long do I need to isolate for?

If you live in a congregate living facility such as a hostel, boarding house, residential college, aged care facility, or residential care facility (including a disability care facility or mental health residential facility) and become a household close contact, you may need to isolate for longer than 5 days. This is due to the potential for ongoing exposure to cases in these settings. You may receive instructions from WA Health or facility management if this is required to manage cases of COVID-19 at your accommodation.

Am I eligible for the $320 COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment?

The WA Government introduced a $320 COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment for workers living in WA who have been directed to isolate while waiting for a COVID-19 test result, and unable to work from home and do not have access to paid leave or other income.

More information about eligibility for this payment is available on the WA Government website (external site)

Follow the Testing and isolation guide (external site)

Can I leave isolation to get a COVID vaccination?

Close contacts (but not cases) can leave isolation for a COVID-19 vaccination provided they:

  • have no symptoms
  • are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine
  • can produce photographic evidence of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) taken by them in the 4 hours before they enter the vaccination site
  • travel to and from the vaccination appointment by the most direct route and without stopping except as required by law or necessary for fuel or rest.
Looking after yourself in isolation

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, please visit the Looking after yourself page for further information on how to stay healthy and remain supported.

How do I manage food or medication?

  • Ask your family/friends/others for assistance, such as to obtain groceries or medication.
  • Consider using on-line shopping to order groceries and contacting your local pharmacy directly to organise supply of regular medication.
  • Ask people making deliveries to your home/accommodation to leave the items at the door or in your letterbox.
  • If you are unable to access food, medication or other essential items via family, friends or on-line shopping contact 13 COVID (132 6843).

Emergency

  • You are permitted to leave your home during self-isolation if it is a medical emergency or if there is a risk to your immediate safety.
  • If it is an emergency call 000 and let emergency services know you are in isolation.

Medical assistance

  • If you require urgent medical assistance, you may travel to a hospital by private vehicle, taxi, or rideshare service but you must not use public transport such as a bus or train. You must let your driver know that you are in isolation.
  • Contact WA Police (13 14 44) and inform them that you have left isolation to travel to hospital.
  • If you’re not travelling to the hospital by ambulance, call the hospital before you arrive to inform them you are in isolation and inform hospital staff immediately on arrival.
  • You must wear a face mask from the time you leave your place of isolation, until you return to that place.

Non-urgent medical assistance

  • For non-urgent medical assistance call Health Direct on 1800 022 222 or call a General Practitioner (GP) in WA for advice. You must inform them that you are in isolation. Note: If you are subject to a COVID-19 public health order requiring you to isolate, you will be able to access Medicare subsidised telehealth services without needing to demonstrate an established relationship with the GP providing you with telehealth support.

If you do not have a GP in WA, please contact healthdirect on 1800 022 222 or get or an after-hours GP service for non-urgent medical assistance.


What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19?

Read what to do when you test positive for COVID-19 and looking after yourself.

What do I do if I am a close contact?

Read about COVID-19 close contacts.

Learn more about managing COVID-19 at home and in the community.

Last reviewed: 09-09-2022

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

Coronavirus information helplines: 13 COVID (13 268 43). Interstate callers: 1800 595 206. International callers: +61 8 9118 3100.