Skip to main content

If You Have COVID-19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been told you have COVID-19, learn how to take care of yourself and self-isolate to help prevent the virus from spreading to others.
Last updated: September 8, 2021

Key points

  • Take care of yourself by managing your symptoms at home, learning about treatment and knowing when to get medical care
  • Self-isolate by staying home and avoiding contact with others as much as possible
  • Take steps to prevent spreading the virus to others
  • Call 8-1-1 or a health care provider if you have questions
  • Get vaccinated with both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine even if you have had COVID-19.

Managing COVID-19 symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 can be like other respiratory illnesses including the flu and common cold. Visit our Symptoms page for more information. 

Most people can manage their symptoms at home. If you have a fever, you can find out more about managing fevers in children and adults on the HealthLink BC website. You can use non-prescription medicine like acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Advil) to help with some of the symptoms of COVID-19.

If leaving your home for non-urgent medical care, call ahead and tell the clinic or doctor’s office that you have COVID-19. By calling ahead, you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Pay attention to your health and how you are feeling. Go to an urgent care clinic or emergency department if you:


  • find it hard to breathe
  • have chest pain
  • can't drink anything
  • feel very sick
  • feel confused

If your child has COVID-19 take them to your nearest emergency department or call 911 if they: 


  • Are having difficulty breathing
  • Have blue lips or skin, or appears very pale
  • Have red and/or swollen lips or tongue
  • Are coughing excessively, particularly with a fever
  • Are vomiting excessively, especially if there is blood in the vomit
  • Have diarrhea and vomiting, is not producing tears, and has not urinated for several hours
  • Have a high fever, appear very sleepy, and have not improved with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  • Are under three months of age and has a fever of 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees F) or greater
  • Have pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
  • There is new confusion
  • Are unable to wake or stay awake
  • Have severe abdominal pain
  • Have a spreading rash

Treatment

For the latest information about what treatments are available visit the Treatments page of the BCCDC website.

Most people with COVID-19 recover within two weeks. Some people experience more severe illness from COVID-19 and take longer to recover. The Post COVID-19 Interdisciplinary Clinical Care Network provides resources specific to COVID-19 recovery and symptom management.


PHSA's Post COVID-19 Interdisciplinary Clinical Care Network aims to support the best possible outcomes for people who have experienced serious cases of COVID-19. Learn more about their work and find clinics where you can access care


Self-Isolation 

Self-isolation means staying home and avoiding situations where you could come in contact with others. When you have COVID-19, you need to self-isolate. For more information visit the self-isolation page, including how to self-isolate and how long you will need to self-isolate.


Get vaccinated after a COVID-19 infection

You can get infected with COVID-19 more than once. This is called reinfection. Reinfection means a person got COVID-19, recovered and then became infected with COVID-19 again later. While cases of reinfection have been reported, they are rare.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and to prevent a serious case of COVID-19. People who have had COVID-19 should get two doses of vaccine. You should wait until you have recovered and feel better before getting the vaccine. We are still learning how long immunity lasts from infection or from vaccination. It likely lasts for at least several months in most people.

Caring for someone with COVID-19

When caring for someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, take steps to protect yourself from getting sick, monitor yourself for symptoms and learn when to get help for the person who is sick. 

  • A person with COVID-19 needs to stay home for at least 10 days or longer if required by public health. 
    • If possible, the person who is sick should stay in their own room and use their own bathroom
  • Do not have visitors to the house when someone is self-isolating
  • Visit the Self-isolation page for more details on how to self-isolate.‎
  • Wear a surgical mask or a well-fitted 3 layer mask. Make sure that the mask covers your mouth and nose and goes under the chin.
  • The person who is sick should also wear a mask when you are in the room if they can.
    • Masks should not be worn by children under 2 or people who cannot remove their own mask
  • Clean cloth masks often and throw disposable masks away after using them each day, or if they become soiled or wet
  • Open windows to increase airflow.
  • As much as you can, keep at least 2 metres between the two of you.
  • Do not eat together or share cups or eating utensils.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer when caring for a person who is sick and after you remove your mask. 
  • Clean and disinfect objects or surfaces touched by the person who is sick, such as light switches, faucets, door handles and bathroom fixtures at least twice a day, and thermometers after each use
  • Bedding and clothing used by a person who is sick can be washed with other household items.
    • Use hot water and dry clothes completely
  • Use gloves to clean up vomit or diarrhea and wash your hands immediately after. Close the toilet lid if you need to flush the toilet after someone with COVID-19 uses it. 
  • Visit the Cleaning and Disinfection page for more information.
Most of the time, you can care for a person who has COVID-19 at home. If someone has a fever, you can use non-prescription medicine like acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Advil) to help with some of the symptoms. 

Go to an urgent care clinic or emergency department, or call 911 if the person you are caring for:
  • finds it hard to breathe
  • has blue lips or skin, or turns very pale 
  • has chest pain or feels a lot of pressure on the chest
  • can’t drink anything
  • appears very sick
  • appears confused
  • has a high fever, appears very sleepy, and has not improved with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  • is under three months of age and has a fever of 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees F) or greater.
Alert staff that the person you are caring for has COVID-19. Don’t hesitate to call 8-1-1 or consult a care provider if you have COVID-19 questions.
COVID-19 spreads easily so it is important to monitor yourself daily and get tested if you develop any symptoms. Key symptoms include 
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Difficulty breathing
Other symptoms may include:
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Confusion
Visit our testing page for more information. 
Consider the child’s age and mental and physical well-being when caring for a child who is sick. Steps such as self-isolation can be stressful for young children.  Some caregivers choose to self-isolate along with their children if they have COVID-19. Other options including selecting one person to be the caregiver, to help limit the spread in a household. 

Children generally have milder COVID-19 symptoms than adults. However, in rare circumstance, children can become quite ill. Take your child immediately to your nearest emergency department or call 911 if your child: 

  • is having difficulty breathing
  • has blue lips or skin, or appears very pale
  • red and/or swollen lips or tongue
  • is coughing excessively, particularly with a fever
  • is vomiting excessively, especially if there is blood in the vomit
  • has diarrhea and vomiting, is not producing tears, and has not urinated for several hours
  • has a high fever, appears very sleepy, and has not improved with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  • is under three months of age and has a fever of 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees F) or greater
  • pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
  • new confusion
  • inability to wake or stay awake
  • severe abdominal pain
  • spreading rash. 
Learn more about Children and COVID-19 on the Illness and Medical care page. A rare condition called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) can develop after a child or adolescents has had COVID-19 . Learn more about MIS-C


Click to enlarge

Precautions: If someone has  COVID-19 at home



Caring for someone with COVID-19 at home



Click to enlarge



To learn about more ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 see the Prevention page on the BCCDC website. 

Other Resources

If you have COVID-19 and are breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed. For more information, refer to the Breastfeeding and COVID-19 guidance.




SOURCE: If You Have COVID-19 ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Centre for Disease Control. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2021 Provincial Health Services Authority.