Self-Isolation and COVID-19

Self-isolation means staying home and avoiding situations where you could come in contact with others and is an important measure in stopping the spread of illness. There are a number of reasons why you should or may be required to self-isolate. For more information about self-isolation:

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses including the flu and common cold. Common symptoms for COVID-19 include: fever, chills, cough or worsening of chronic cough, shortness of breath, sore throat and/or runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Some less common symptoms include stuffy nose, conjunctivitis (pink eye) dizziness, confusion, abdominal pain, skin rashes or discoloration of fingers or toes.

Testing is recommended and available for anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19 like symptoms, even mild ones. For more information on testing and where to go for testing, visit the Testing page.

Symptoms may vary from person to person. Some people may experience mild symptoms, while others have more severe symptoms. If you develop symptoms you will need to self-isolate while you wait for your test results so you do not potentially spread illness to others. Those who get diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to self-isolate for at least 10 days from when their symptoms started. For more information on what to do if you have COVID-19, if you think you may have it, or believe you may require medical care, visit the If you are Sick page.

Learn more about self-isolation when you have COVID-19 or any symptoms of COVID-19:

For more information about the symptoms of COVID-19, see Symptoms of COVID-19.

If you have close contacts or household members with COVID-19

If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19 you are required to self-isolate for 14 days from the last time you had close contact with the individual. You may have been exposed to the virus and are at risk of developing COVID-19 or passing it on to others. Your regional health authority’s public health team may have been in touch with you to advise that you have been in close contact with COVID-19.

While in self-isolation you should also be self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.

Learn more about caring for someone in your household with COVID-19, and self-isolating and self-monitoring if you are a close contact of someone in your household who may have been exposed:

If you have travelled internationally

Avoiding non-essential travel helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you have traveled outside of Canada, you are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days upon your return to Canada. You are also required to submit a self-isolation plan before or on your return to Canada.

While in self-isolation you should also be self-monitoring to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

Learn more about self-isolation and self-monitoring on return to British Columbia:

For more information about returning from travel and travel restrictions in Canada, see Travel and COVID-19.

Ending self-isolation

If you have been sick, were exposed to COVID-19, or returned from travel you likely self-isolated for 14 days or 10 days after symptoms started, whichever is longer. After your 10- or 14-day self-isolation, you may return to your regular activities if:

  • At least 10 days have passed since any symptoms started, and
  • Your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g. Tylenol, Advil), and
  • You are feeling better (there is improvement in runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue). Coughing may go on for several weeks, so a cough alone does not mean you need to continue to self-monitor and self-isolate. OR
  • You were self-monitoring and never developed any symptoms.

Learn more about ending isolation and additional resources:

Find more information about COVID-19 and how to protect yourself, your family and your community, see Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Last updated: June 19, 2020      

The information provided above has been adapted from the BC Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 resources, accessed June 19, 2020, and the Public Health Agency PHAC: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): How to care for a person with COVID-19 at home – Advice for caregivers accessed April 22 2020.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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