Positive COVID-19 test result

A positive result means the test found signs of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

You will get your result by text message. A member of the contact tracing team will also call you to give advice and collect details of your close contacts.

Prevent the spread of COVID-19

Do not attend a vaccine appointment if you have one scheduled and you have COVID-19. Wait until it has been 4 weeks since you first tested positive. You can call HSELive on 1800 700 700 to request a new appointment date.

Here's what you need to do next.

Stay in your room (self-isolation)

You need to self-isolate because there is a high risk you could spread the virus to other people.

Stay in a room, on your own, with a window open for ventilation. Avoid contact with other people completely. Do not leave your room unless you need urgent medical attention, such as going to a hospital.

Read about treating COVID-19 symptoms at home

Do not go to the pharmacy or shop for any reason.

If you need shopping, medication or to collect a prescription either:

  • order shopping online
  • phone your pharmacy to see if they can deliver to you
  • ask someone to go for you

Read more about how to self-isolate

There is different advice about self-isolation for children.

Read what to do if your child has to isolate from other people

Watch a video on how to self-isolate

Your close contacts

A close contact includes people you:

  • live with
  • have recently been in face-to-face contact with for more than 15 minutes and within a 2 metre distance
  • have recently shared a closed space with for longer than 2 hours (for example, an office, meeting room or transport)

What your close contacts need to do

Your close contacts need to restrict their movements (stay at home). This is because they may have COVID-19 too.

Your close contacts need to avoid other people and social situations as much as possible.

If they develop symptoms of COVID-19, they should self-isolate (stay in their room) and phone their GP for advice.

Telling your close contacts

If you feel comfortable telling your close contacts that you have COVID-19, please do this.

You can also share this advice for close contacts with them: If you are a close contact of COVID-19.

By doing this, you will stop other people getting infected and help to bring COVID-19 under control.

We will also contact them by text message.

Preparing for your call from contact tracing

When you get your positive test result, it's a good idea to begin preparing for your call from contact tracing.

Make a list of your close contacts

Make a list of all the close contacts you can think of.

If you had symptoms of COVID-19 before your test, include close contacts from 48 hours before you developed symptoms.

If you did not have symptoms of COVID-19 before your test, include close contacts from 24 hours before your test.

Write down their names, mobile phone numbers and when you were last in contact with them. If you know their address and date of birth, this is also helpful for the contact tracer.

Tips for jogging your memory

When you're writing your list of close contacts, think back about any:

  • social visits outside of your home, who was there, and where you went
  • visitors to your home – this could be, friends, family, workers – how close they were to you and how long they were in your home
  • transport – bus, train, plane, taxi, or a lift in a car with someone else
  • sport or activities with other people
  • services you got like hair, beauty or health appointments

You may not know the names and numbers of everyone you were in contact with. For example, if you were at an event or in shared accommodation. In these cases, it would be helpful if you can make a note of the name and mobile phone number of the COVID officer, venue manager or organiser of the event.

Who not to include on your close contact list

Do not include people:

  • who were not in close contact with you
  • you were in contact with more than 48 hours before you developed symptoms, or more than 24 hours before your test, if you did not have symptoms
  • you saw briefly outside and did not touch, for example chatting to someone for a few minutes more than 2 metres apart

Your workplace

Phone your employer to let them know you have tested positive for COVID-19 if you were in your workplace:

  • from 48 hours before your symptoms began - if you were tested because you had symptoms of COVID-19)
  • from 24 hours before your positive COVID-19 test result - if you were tested because you are a close contact but did not have symptoms of COVID-19

People who were not in close contact with you

If you test positive for COVID-19, anyone who was not in close contact with you does not need to restrict their movements. For example, people who live with your close contacts, or friends of your close contacts, don't need to do anything unless they were in close contact with you.

They will not get a call from contact tracing. They can continue to go to work, school or childcare. Just like everyone else, if they develop symptoms of COVID-19, they should self-isolate and call their GP.

Read more about close contacts

If your symptoms get worse

If you start to feel very unwell, phone your GP or GP out-of-hours. It's very important to do this if your breathing changes or becomes difficult, or your cough gets worse.

Immediate action required: Call 112 or 999 if:

  • you are very short of breath and your GP is not available

Do not go to the pharmacy or shop for any reason. If you need medication, check if your pharmacy does home delivery or ask someone to go for you.

How to cope with self-isolation

Keep yourself mobile by getting up and moving around as much as possible. If you have a private garden, backyard or balcony, go out and get some fresh air.

Stay in touch with people over the phone. Ask a family member, friend or neighbour to check in with you over the phone a few times every day. Let them know how you are feeling.

Get any food or medication you need delivered to your home. Ask someone to get these things for you if home delivery is not an option. Do not go to the pharmacy or shop yourself as you could put others at risk.

Read more about how to keep well during self-isolation

Read about eating well while recovering from COVID-19

When you can stop self-isolating

Most people can stop self-isolating when both of these apply:

  • you have had no fever for 5 days
  • it has been 10 days since you first developed symptoms

If you tested positive because you are a close contact, you may have no symptoms. In this case, you can stop self-isolating 10 days from the date of your test.

Read more about when you can stop self-isolation

Read about recovering after COVID-19

Immunity after COVID-19 infection

There is good evidence that you will be immune (protected) for at least 9 months after a COVID-19 infection.

During the 9 months after a COVID-19 infection, you:

  • are unlikely to become infected with COVID-19 again
  • will not need to be retested unless you develop symptoms of COVID-19
  • will not need to restrict your movements (stay at home) if you are a close contact of someone else who has COVID-19


There is a wide range of supports available for people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These include:

  • community support from local authorities
  • financial and employment supports
  • mental health supports and services
  • support if you cannot self-isolate at home
  • helplines for Irish Travellers and Roma

Read more about supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Last updated: 12 April 2021 at 10.40am