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Self-Isolation and Self-Monitoring

Information on self-isolation and self-monitoring for people who have who tested positive for COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19, or who are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
Last updated: September 28, 2022

Learn who needs to self-isolate or self-monitor, for how long, and how to.

Once your symptoms have improved, you are able to participate in your usual activities. It’s important to be aware of and follow public health guidance.

Self-isolation

When you self-isolate, you stay home and keep away from others to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Who needs to self-isolate

Below are scenarios in which you may need to self-isolate.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will need to self-isolate.

A negative test result means that you likely did not have COVID-19 on the day you had the test. You may stop self-isolating once you feel well enough to return to regular activities.

Even if testing is not recommended, it is still important to stay home as much as possible to reduce any potential spread of illness until your symptoms have improved, and you are able to participate in your usual activities.

How long should I self-isolate

The amount of time you need to self-isolate depends on your vaccination status and age. 

You are considered to be fully vaccinated if you have two doses of any of the World Health Organization approved COVID-19 vaccines or one dose of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. You do not need to have a booster dose to be considered fully vaccinated.


If you test positive for COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated, you need to self-isolate at home for 5 days AND until your symptoms improve and you no longer have a fever. 

  • You do not need to be re-tested for COVID-19 to end your self-isolation period and return to your normal activities. 

If you have not received a full series of any of the World Health Organization approved COVID-19 vaccines, you are not fully immunized.

  • If you are 18 years of age or older, test positive for COVID-19, and are not fully vaccinated, you need to self-isolate at home for 10 days AND until you no longer have a fever AND your symptoms improve.  You do not need to be re-tested for COVID-19 after your self-isolation period ends to return to normal activities; you can remain test positive for many weeks, even after you are no longer infectious.

  • If you are under 18 years of age, test positive for COVID-19, and are not fully vaccinated, you need to self-isolate at home for 5 days AND until you no longer have a fever AND your symptoms improve.  You do not need to be re-tested for COVID-19 after your self-isolation period ends to return to normal activities; you can remain test positive for many weeks, even after you are no longer infectious.
 

Consider how you manage other illnesses that you do not get tested for like cold and flu. Stay home if you are feeling unwell and resume your regular activities when you feel you are able to manage them. If you have a fever you should stay home until it is gone without medication.

How to self-isolate

  • Stay home in your own room or a dedicated area in the home as much as possible.
  • Do not go to work, school or other public places.
  • Do not have visitors inside unless they are home health care providers.
  • Have family, friends or a delivery service bring food, medication and other supplies to you.
  • Avoid going outside of your home even while you wait for your test results.
  • Continue to wash your hands often and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow.
  • You can still do essential chores such as checking your mail, walking your dog, or shoveling your walkway.
  • While you are self-isolating, keep connected with friends or family virtually or over the phone

    • Visit our mental well-being page to learn more about mental well-being support services offered in B.C.

    • If you have non-health-related questions about support services, call Service BC at 1-888-268-4319 (available 7:30 am-8 pm, 7 days a week)

  • If your symptoms are severe (e.g., difficulty breathing), call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency department.

  • Walk, ride a bike, or drive yourself, if possible.
  • If you travel in a car with anyone (in a taxi or a rideshare, or even with someone from your household): 
    • Wear a mask and roll down all the windows. 
    • Everyone should clean their hands before and after the ride.
  • If you must take public transit: 
    • Wear a mask
    • Clean your hands before and after the ride 
    • Try to stay 2 metres away from others
  • Stay in your own room and use a different bathroom than others, if possible.
  • If you must be in a room with others: 
    • Everyone should wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth and goes under the chin. 
    • Open windows to increase airflow. 
  • Eat alone in the room where you are self-isolating. If you must eat in a shared space, eat by yourself.
  • Everyone should wash hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer. 
  • If you share a bathroom: 
    • Put down the toilet lid before you flush. 
    • Turn on the fan or open the window.
    • Clean handles and faucets after each use. 
    • Avoid sharing personal items like toothbrushes and towels 
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches, faucets, phones, computers and remote controls.
 

Frequently asked questions

Parents and children need to be monitoring for symptoms very closely. Children should stay home from school or daycare if they feel ill but they can return once they are well enough to resume regular activities, just like everyone else.

No. When there is a possible COVID-19 exposure in places like work or school, people do not need to self-isolate unless they test positive for COVID-19 or develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, it’s important to self-monitor for symptoms. If you develop symptoms stay home until your symptoms have improved and check the self-assessment tool to see if you should get a test.

 

You will only need to self-isolate if you develop symptoms of COVID-19. You should self-monitor for symptoms and if you develop symptoms, stay home until you feel better.

 

If your child is feeling better and is well enough to participate in regular activities, they can return to school or child care. Keep them home if they still have a fever or if their symptoms have not improved.


Translated content

American Sign Language


Self-monitoring
Self-monitoring is when you check yourself or your dependents for symptoms of COVID-19. 

Who needs to self-monitor

Everyone should check for symptoms of COVID-19. 

If you develop symptoms, use the Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need testing. 

How long to self-monitor

There is no set time for self-monitoring, as it is important to always look out for symptoms of COVID-19.

How to self-monitor

  • Watch closely for symptoms of COVID-19, even mild ones.
  • Record your temperature if you feel chills or feverish.
  • If you get symptoms, self-isolate right away until you feel better and your symptoms resolve. 
  • You can still go about your daily activities, such as going to school or work, as long as you don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19.
How long

There are three scenarios in which you may need to self-isolate or self-monitor. Click on the scenario that matches your situation to see how long to self-isolate or self-monitor.

Scenario 1: I have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 

Start your self-isolation right away if you have a positive test or symptoms of COVID-19. The length of time you will need to self-isolate depends on your situation and if you need to get tested. 

What to do if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19:

Follow the instructions on how to self-isolate.

  • If your symptoms are severe (e.g., difficulty breathing), call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency department.
  • Remember the date when you first had symptoms. This will help figure out how long you need to self-isolate.

Figure out whether you need to get tested by visiting our testing page.


If testing is not recommended:

  • Self-isolate until you feel well enough to return to regular activities and no longer have fever (without the use of medicines that reduce fever-like Tylenol or Advil).
  • If you feel worse, call 8-1-1 or your medical care provider.

If testing is recommended:

  • Find the nearest testing centre.
  • Walk or drive yourself if you can or have someone drive you. Wear a mask and keep car windows down if possible. See instructions on How to Self-Isolate.
  • Continue to self-isolate until you get your test results and follow instructions from public health.
 
Self-isolate for the length of time recommended by public health.

If you tested positive:
  • If fully vaccinated, self-isolate for at least 5 days since the start of your symptoms. Wear a mask even in settings where a mask isn’t required and avoid higher risk settings, such as long term care facilities and gatherings, for another 5 days after ending isolation.
  • If unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, self-isolate for at least 10 days since the start of your symptoms.
  • If you don’t feel better after the 5 or 10 days, keep self-isolating until you feel better and your fever is gone (without taking medicine that reduces fever). 
  • If you feel worse, call 8-1-1 or your medical care provider. 
If you tested negative:
  • Self-isolate until your symptoms improve and you feel well enough to return to regular activities.
  • If you had a fever, stay home until the fever is gone (without taking medicine that reduces fever).
  • Close contacts: If you were identified as a close contact and need to self-isolate, you still need to complete your self-isolation.
 

Scenario 2: I am a close contact

If identified as a close contact, you will need to:

  • Self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days after being exposed to a person with COVID-19.
  • Those who are not fully vaccinated also need to self-isolate for 10 days.

If you need to self-isolate, it is very important to complete your entire self-isolation period, even if your COVID-19 test is negative. You may still be able to spread COVID-19 during this time, even if you don’t have symptoms.


‎You may be told by public health if you are a close contact. In some situations, contacts may be told directly by the COVID-19 case. Caregivers, parents, household members, roommates, intimate partners, and co-workers can be close contacts. 


See the page on Close Contacts for more information. 

If you are fully vaccinated or have had a positive COVID-19 test in the last 3 months, you need to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and avoid non-essential high-risk settings for 10 days. You do not need to self-isolate.

If you are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, you need to self-monitor and self-isolate for 10 days since you last had contact with a person with COVID-19.


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).

 

The length of self-isolation could be extended if another person in your household tests positive while you are already self-isolating. 


For example, you start self-isolating for 10 days because you were a close contact. On day 6 of your self-isolation, a person inside your household gets sick with COVID-19. You are now a close contact of this person and you must self-isolate for another 10 days starting from this most recent exposure. This means that your self-isolation period is now a total of 16 days from when you originally started.

 
Scenario 3: I travelled outside of Canada

Travellers entering Canada must follow federal testing and quarantine requirements.

If you are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated you are not exempt and need to follow the mandatory quarantine requirements and self-isolate for 14 days or longer upon arrival. This includes if you tested negative for COVID-19.


Follow the instructions provided by the Government of Canada.


 

If you are an eligible fully vaccinated traveller check the Government of Canada’s Quarantine or Isolation guidance to see if you need to quarantine or self-isolate after returning to Canada. Learn more.


Some people are not required to quarantine or complete a test upon entering Canada. This includes eligible fully vaccinated travellers, some children and dependents, and others. Check the list to understand if you need to quarantine.


Visit the Government of Canada's website for more details about:

Completing the ArriveCAN application before entering Canada and submitting a daily COVID-19 Self-Assessment. 

 
 










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