Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate immediately at home or in another suitable environment, regardless of your vaccination status. It is recommended that you self-isolate for five days from the date of test or 24 hours since any fever has resolved without the aid of fever-reducing medications and all other symptoms are improving for at least 48 hours, whichever is later.
Up to 10 days after testing positive, continue to reduce exposures to others by distancing, wearing a mask, practicing respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene and limiting contacts especially with people at high risk for severe disease (older, immune compromised, etc.) and settings with people at high risk such as visiting long term care.
If you have respiratory symptoms, stay home and away from other people until your symptoms get better. You can use an at-home rapid test, which are available for free at 600+ locations in the province.
If you test negative on a rapid test but you still have symptoms, you may have another viral illness, such as influenza. You should stay home and away from other people until you feel better.
Managing COVID-19 Symptoms at Home
Important: If you are sick, isolate. If your symptoms get worse call HealthLine at 811. If you need medical help right away call 911.
Most people who test positive for COVID-19 recover in about 2 weeks without special medical attention. So, in most cases, you can self-care at home:
- Rest. You may feel weak and tired. While rest will help you fight the disease, it's not good to stay in bed all the time. Resume your normal activities as soon as you're up to it, but you must complete your self-isolation period even if you're feeling better.
- Drink plenty of fluids to replace those you lost from a fever. Fluids also make a scratchy throat feel better and keep nasal mucus thin. Water, soup, fruit juice, and hot tea with lemon are all good choices. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine pale yellow.
- Raise your head with an extra pillow if coughing keeps you awake at night.
- To help with body aches and headache or to lower fever, you can take over-the-counter medications to relieve fever, muscle aches, headaches and other symptoms. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) is preferable, but non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (such as Advil® and Motrin®) are also safe. Avoid taking products with the same ingredients, such as Tylenol® and TylenolSinus®, at the same time. Cough and cold medicines may not be safe for young children or people who have certain health problems.
- Be sure to continue taking your usual medications as well. Contact your pharmacist if you have questions about how over-the-counter medications might interact with your prescriptions
- Don't smoke or breathe second-hand smoke. This is good advice anytime, but it's especially important when you have an illness that can affect your breathing, like COVID-19.
- If you have a dry, hacking cough, you can try cough medicine (cough suppressant) to help stop the cough reflex. Ask your pharmacist which one is right for you. Children under 6 years should not use cough medicine.
- Don't take antihistamines. They don't treat COVID-19 or flu symptoms and could make nasal drainage thicker.
- To soothe a sore throat, suck on non-medicated lozenges or ice cubes, gargle with salt water (1/2 tsp salt in 250 ml of warm water), eat soft, cold foods like yogurt, cottage cheese, and ice cream.
- If a fever is making you uncomfortable, sponge your body with lukewarm water to lower the fever. Don't use cold water or ice. Lowering the fever won't make your symptoms go away faster, but it can make you more comfortable.
- For a stuffy nose, use salt water (saline) nose drops or rinses to loosen the dried mucus. Note that decongestants and saline solution are ineffective against loss of smell.
Caring for Someone with COVID-19 at Home
If you are caring for a person who has COVID-19 at home, designate one healthy person to be their caregiver.
- Try to ensure the sick person has their own bedroom and bathroom, if possible.
- Maintain physical distance from the sick person, as much as possible.
- Avoid sharing household and personal items.
- Wear a mask when within 6 feet of the sick person.
- Keep the environment clean and disinfect high touch surfaces.
- Use an at-home rapid test, which are available for free at 600+ locations in the province
When to get medical advice
Only call HealthLine at 811 if your symptoms are getting worse. Call ahead from home before going to a health care facility, such as a doctor's office or walk-in clinic.
Call 911 if you are seriously ill and need medical help right away. Tell them that you may have COVID-19.
For example, call 911 if:
- You have severe trouble breathing or severe chest pain.
- You are very confused or not thinking clearly.
- The person you're caring for passes out (loses consciousness).
Call your doctor or HealthLine at 811 or get medical care right away if:
- You have new or worse trouble breathing.
- Your symptoms are getting worse.
- You start getting better and then get worse.
- You have symptoms of dehydration, such as:
- having a very dry mouth;
- passing only a little urine;
- feeling very light-headed.