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If You Have COVID-19

Learn what to do if you have symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19.
Last updated: November 17, 2022

Note: Starting November 17,  2022, people with symptoms who test positive for COVID-19 should stay home until their fever has resolved and they feel well enough to participate in daily activities.

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I have symptoms of COVID-19

If you have symptoms and tested positive for COVID-19, you can manage your illness similar to how you manage other respiratory infections like influenza (flu). Stay home if you feel sick and take prevention measures to limit the spread of infection.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Stay home and away from others until your fever is gone (without the use of medicines that reduce fever, like Tylenol and you feel well enough to participate in daily activities. 
  • Avoid close contact with others, especially people at higher risk of severe illness or complications from COVID-19. 
  • If you cannot avoid close contact with others, take other prevention measures such as wearing a mask in indoor spaces and cleaning your hands regularly.What to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19

Treatments are available for people at high risk from COVID-19 who tested positive for COVID-19 by PCR or rapid antigen test. 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.

Managing your symptoms

Most people can safely manage their symptoms at home. This includes drinking lots of water and fluids, resting, 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 (Tylenol ®) or ibuprofen (Advil ®) to help with some of the symptoms of COVID-19.

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

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

Vaccination after COVID-19

Vaccines have been 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 being infected with COVID-19.

  • If you are due for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, you should get vaccinated after you recover.
  • If you've recently had a positive COVID-19 test result, you can wait up to 3-6 months for a booster dose. The likelihood of a COVID-19 reinfection during this period of time is small because having COVID-19 boosts your immunity.
  • However, you can choose to get a booster dose at any time after your symptoms have passed. It is not harmful to get vaccinated and it will boost your immunity.

Post COVID-19 or long COVID

Post-COVID-19 condition refers to the longer-term effects some people experience after their COVID-19 infection. It is also known as long COVID. 
 
Some people who have had COVID-19 experience a range of symptoms that last months or years. This can have a significant impact on quality of life and function. Symptoms can be different from the ones they had during the initial COVID-19 illness.
 
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

Close contacts

If you test positive for COVID-19, everyone in the household should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and stay home if they develop symptoms.

You can direct your close contacts to:


If you have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 and you are living and caring for others, learn about prevention measures:

Caring for someone with COVID-19

When caring for someone with symptoms of 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. 

Staying home when sick:

  • A person with symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and away from others (if possible) until they feel well enough to return to regular activities
  • 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 

  • Wear a surgical mask, respirator, or well-fitted 3 layer cloth 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 (greater than 39°C or 102.2° F), 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°C (100.4°F) or greater.
Alert clinic 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 select 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: 

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 (greater than 39°C or 102.2° F), 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

Other Resources

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