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If You Have COVID-19

Learn how to care for yourself if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or tested positive for COVID-19.
Last updated: May 6, 2022
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What to do if you have mild symptoms and testing is not recommended

  1. Stay home until you feel well enough to return to your regular activities.
  2. Learn about how to manage your symptoms.

Mild symptoms are symptoms that can be managed at home. 

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19

There are some treatments available for people who tested positive for COVID-19, and are not in the hospital, and who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. 

To find out if you may benefit from treatment and how to get the treatment, visit gov.bc.ca/covidtreatments or call 1-888-268-4319.
Learn about treatment

Self-isolation and ending isolation

Self-isolation essentially means keeping away from others to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 
Learn how to self-isolate

If you tested positive and are managing your illness at home you can end isolation when all three of these conditions are met:

  1. At least 5 days have passed since your symptoms started, or from test date if you did not have symptoms.
  2. Fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  3. Symptoms have improved.
Fully vaccinated means you received both doses of a 2-dose series (e.g. AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna vaccine) or it has been more than 14 days since you received a single dose of a 1-dose series (e.g. Janssen/ Johnson and Johnson).

If you are an adult who tested positive and you are not fully vaccinated and are managing your illness at home, you can end isolation when all three of these conditions are met:

  1. At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms started, or from the day you tested positive if you did not have symptoms.
  2. Fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  3. Symptoms have improved.

Fully vaccinated means you received both doses of a 2-dose series (e.g. AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna vaccine) or it has been more than 14 days since you received a single dose of a 1-dose series (e.g. Janssen/ Johnson and Johnson).

Continue to isolate for longer if you have a fever or are not feeling better.


Presence of mild symptoms does not necessarily mean that you are contagious after 5 days. It can take longer to completely recover from the illness. Most people recover within two weeks. Some people with more severe symptoms can take up to 12 weeks or more to feel entirely better.


If you are unsure or concerned, connect with your health care provider, call 8-1-1, or go to an Urgent and Primary Care Centre to be assessed.

If you are a traveler returning from outside Canada and test positive for COVID-19, you need to follow the quarantine requirements set by the Federal government. Visit the Government of Canada website for more information: travel.gc.ca/travel-covid

 

Managing your symptoms

Most people can safely manage their symptoms with home treatment, such as drinking plenty of fluids, rest, and using a humidifier or hot shower to ease a cough or sore throat.  If you have 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 of COVID-19.

You can call 8-1-1 anytime to talk to a nurse at HealthLinkBC. This service is available in 130 languages. If your symptoms worsen, or if you do not improve after five or six days, call 8-1-1, your family doctor or an Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC), so they can determine if you need to be assessed again. 

Go to an emergency department or call 911 if you:
  • find it hard to breathe
  • have chest pain
  • can’t drink anything
  • feel very sick
  • feel confused
Post COVID-19 is an umbrella term for any symptoms that remain after you are initially sick with COVID-19.  Learn about post COVID-19 or long COVID.


Vaccination after COVID-19

If you’re not fully vaccinated or you have not received your booster, you should still get vaccinated after you have recovered and ended your self-isolation. Vaccines boost your immunity and have shown to be highly effective in preventing serious illness and death, even after you have had a COVID-19 infection. The vaccine provides more reliable protection than COVID-19.

If you've recently had a positive COVID-19 test result, you can wait up to 3 months for your booster dose.  The likelihood of a COVID-19 reinfection during this period of time is small because having COVID-19 boosts your immunity.

You can also choose to get the booster dose at any time after your symptoms have passed. It is not harmful to get vaccinated and it will give you a good boost to your protection.


Post COVID-19 or long COVID

Post-COVID-19 condition refers to the longer-term effects some people experience after their COVID-19 illness. It is also known as long COVID. 
 
Some people who have had COVID-19 experience a range of symptoms that last months or years. These symptoms can have a significant impact on quality of life and function. Symptoms can be different from the ones they had during initial COVID-19 illness. Research studies are under way to identify and monitor long COVID in BC. 
 
If you are experiencing long COVID, PHSA's Post COVID-19 Interdisciplinary Clinical Care Network offers clinical care, education and research to support you in your recovery. It can help you understand your symptoms, access tools to manage them and find Post-COVID-19 Recovery Clinics across BC. 
Learn about post COVID-19


Let your close contacts know

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may let your close contacts know so they can monitor for symptoms. Generally, you should notify:

  1. People you live with
  2. People you had intimate contact with. 
Everyone in the household should monitor symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and stay home if they develop symptoms.

You can direct your close contacts to:


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 who tests positive for COVID-19 needs to stay home.
    • 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.
  • 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. Symptoms include:
 
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
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 circumstances, 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


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