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Self-Isolation

When you self-isolate, stay home and keep away from others to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Last updated: February 12, 2021

When you self-isolate, you stay home and avoid contact with other people. This important step helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Here you will find information about who needs to self-isolate, the length of time you will need to self-isolate for your situation, and steps you can take to keep yourself and others healthy.


Who
Self-isolation is recommended for people for many different reasons. This page outlines who needs to self-isolate. 

In general, you should stay home if you feel unwell, even if you do not have COVID-19. This will help prevent the spread of other illnesses, especially during cold and flu season.

As of March 25, 2020 it is mandatory under the Quarantine Act that anyone arriving in Canada from another country needs to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days upon their arrival. 


Starting February 22, 2021, travellers arriving by air will also be required to reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost. They are required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada before exiting the airport, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period. Learn more about the Government of Canada mandatory quarantine or isolation requirements. Travellers who do not self-isolate may face fines or other, serious, penalties. The Government of BC provides helpful resources for self-quarantine after travel


You must complete the federal ArriveCAN application digitally before entering Canada. After entry into Canada, you must use the ArriveCAN app daily to submit your COVID-19 Self-Assessment. During your quarantine you must follow the instructions provided by the Government of Canada. 


If, during your quarantine period, you develop a fever and cough or fever and difficulty breathing, test positive for COVID-19 or if you are exposed to another person subject to the quarantine order who exhibits signs and symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, you need to restart counting the 14 day from the date you develop symptoms, or were exposed. 

 

If you don’t develop symptoms, and are not exposed to someone else who does, your self-isolation can end 14 days after you arrived in Canada. 


Visit How to Self-Isolate for more details about steps to take while you are self-isolating.

If your symptoms can be managed at home, self-isolate there for at least 10 days since the start of your symptoms. You should keep self-isolating until you feel better and your fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medication.  Public health will let you know if you need to self-isolate for more than 10 days. 

If you are returning from travelling outside of Canada and have COVID-19, you need to follow the quarantine requirements and self-isolate for at least 14 days after your return to Canada, perhaps longer depending when you developed symptoms or got tested.

Visit How to Self-Isolate for more details on caring for yourself and reducing the spread of the virus to others. ‎
Start your self-isolation right away if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Follow the instructions for How to Self-Isolate to reduce the spread of the virus.

The length of time you will need to self-isolate depends on your situation and if you need to get tested. Review the How Long do I need to Self-Isolate page to learn more. 

Visit our testing page to learn more about when you need to get a COVID-19 test.  

If testing is not recommended, you need to self-isolate until you feel better and no longer have fever without the use of fever reducing medication. Seek medical advice if your symptoms get worse. If you are returning from travelling outside of Canada, you still need to follow the quarantine requirements and self-isolate for at least 14 days after your return to Canada, perhaps longer depending on your symptoms and when you developed them.

If you need to get tested, be careful about how you get to the test site. Walk or drive yourself if you can or have someone drive you, making sure you wear a mask and keep windows rolled down during the trip. If you need to take a taxi or ride share, you must also wear a mask and keep windows open. If you must take transit, wear your mask and keep yourself 2 meters apart from others as much as possible. Continue to self-isolate until you get your test results and then follow the self-isolation period recommended for your result. If you are returning from travel outside of Canada, you still need to follow the quarantine requirements and self-isolate for at least 14 days after your return to Canada, perhaps longer depending on your test result and when you developed symptoms. 
If you are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19, you need to self-isolate for 14 days since you last had contact with this person.  Caregivers, parents, household members, roommates, intimate partners and co-workers can be close contacts. See the page on Close Contacts for more information. Review the How Long Should I Self-Isolate page to learn more about self-isolation periods for close contacts.  

If you are a close contact, you will need to monitor for symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and visit our testing page to learn more about when you need to go for a COVID-19 test. 

Living in a household with a person who has COVID-19 means you and all of the other people who live in that house are close contacts and need to self-isolate. If another person in your household tests positive for COVID-19, this may extend the amount of time that you will need to self-isolate. Visit our How Long Should I Self-Isolate page to learn more about the right isolation period for you and your household members. ‎

 
If you live with or are caring for someone who is a close contact of a person with COVID-19, think about steps you can take to limit the spread of COVID-19.  People who are close contacts have a much greater chance of developing COVID-19. Close contacts can become infectious and spread COVID-19 to people around them, even if they don’t show symptoms.  

For example, if you are a parent of a child who is self-isolating, there are steps you can take to help protect others while you care for your child, such as working from home or avoiding contact with seniors or others with chronic health conditions.  Review our guide for caregivers and consider applying some of the public health measures recommended in that document. If you live with a close contact, see the guide for cleaning and disinfecting your home for tips on how to reduce your exposure while your close contact is self-isolating. 

If your close contact tests positive, you will need to self-isolate and follow the guidance for Close Contacts of a Person with COVID-19 (see #4 above). 

How long
When you need to start self-isolating and how long you need keep isolating depends on many factors. This page provides guidance on the number of days a person needs to self-isolate.  Please review to section that applies to you to see learn about the length of time you will need to self-isolate for your situation.

If you are returning from travel outside of Canada, you must follow the Federal Government’s Quarantine Order requirements for self-isolation (see # 7 below). Other instructions on this page do not apply to you.

Self-isolate right away and keep self-isolating at least until you get your result. Record the date when you first had symptoms. This will help determine how long you will need to self-isolate.

  • If your test is positive see section #3 below. 
  • If your test is negative self-isolate until you feel better. If you had a fever, stay home until the fever is gone (without taking medicine that reduces fevers).
Self-isolate until you get your result. 

  • If your test positive, continue to self-isolate and follow section #3 below. 
  • If your test is negative self-isolate until you feel better. If you had a fever, stay home until it is gone (without taking medicine that reduces fevers)
Self-isolate for at least 10 days from the day you noticed symptoms. 

  • If you have not started to feel better after 10 days, you need to keep self-isolating until you feel better and your fever is gone (without taking medicine that reduces fevers). If you start to feel worse call 8-1-1 or a health care provider. 
  • Most of the time, you will stop spreading the virus to others when:
    • 10 days have passed since you started having COVID-19 symptoms, and
    • you feel better, and 
    • you do not have a fever (without taking medicine that reduces fevers).
  • Public Health will let you know if you need to self-isolate for more than 10 days for other reasons.
In some cases, public health will contact you directly about COVID-19.  

If you have symptoms, you need to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the day you noticed symptoms 10. 
  • If you still have symptoms after 10 days, you need to keep self-isolating until you feel better and your fever is gone (without taking medicine that reduces fevers). If you start to feel worse call 8-1-1 or a health care provider. 
  • Most of the time, you will stop transmitting the virus to others when:
    • 10 days have passed since you started having COVID-19 symptoms, and
    • You feel better, and 
    • You do not have a fever (without taking medicine that reduces fevers).
  • Public health will let you know if you need to self-isolate for more than 10 days for other reasons.
If you did not have symptoms you need to self-isolate for as long as Public Health recommends, usually until 10 days have passed after they notified you.

If you are a close contact of a person with COVID-19, you need to self-isolate for 14 days since you last had contact with this person. This is because it can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms of COVID-19 after being exposed, and you can transmit COVID-19 if you are infected, even before you develop symptoms.

It is important to know that this period could be extended if another person in your household tests positive while you are already self-isolating. 

For example, you start self-isolating for 14 days because you were a close contact of someone outside of your household.

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 14 days starting from this most recent exposure. This means that your self-isolation period is now a total of 20 days from when you originally started.

For more information on who is a close contact, see our Close Contacts page

It is very important to complete your entire 14-day self-isolation period, even if your COVID-19 test is negative. This is because you may still be able to spread COVID-19 during this time, even if you don’t have symptoms.
 
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As of March 25, 2020 it is mandatory under the Quarantine Act that anyone arriving in Canada from another country must self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days upon their arrival.  Visit the Government of Canada’s website for more details for incoming travellers.  

Starting February 22, 2021, travellers arriving by air will also be required to reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost. They are required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada before exiting the airport, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period. 

Travellers who do not self-isolate may face fines or other, serious penalties. The Government of BC provides helpful resources for self-quarantine after travel. 

You must complete the federal ArriveCAN application digitally before entering Canada. After entry into Canada, you must use the ArriveCAN app daily to submit your COVID-19 Self-Assessment. During your quarantine you must follow the instructions provided by the Government of Canada. If during your quarantine period, you develop a fever and cough or fever and difficulty breathing, test positive for COVID-19 or if you are exposed to another person subject to the quarantine order who exhibits signs and symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, you need to restart your self-isolation period from the date you develop symptoms, or were exposed. This will extend the amount of time you will need to self-isolate. See the Government of Canada website for more details for travelers who arrive without symptoms of COVID-19. 

Visit How to Self-Isolate for more details about steps to take while you are self-isolating.

















How to
When you self-isolate, you stay home and keep away from others to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This page provides the steps you should take to keep yourself and others healthy while you self-isolate. 

If you are returning to Canada from another country, you must quarantine and self-isolate as described on this page and follow the instructions provided by the Government of Canada.

  • Do not go to work, school, or public areas including grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, gyms or places of worship while you are self-isolating. 
  • The only reasons you should leave your home are for medical care or COVID-19 testing. 
  • Walk or drive yourself to medical appointments or COVID-19 ¬¬testing sites. If you need to have someone else drive, for example if you take taxi or rideshare, wear a mask and keep windows rolled down. If you must take public transit, wear a mask and keep at least 2 meters between yourself and others.
  • Consider having food or medicine dropped off outside of your home by friends or family or use a delivery service.
  • Let any home healthcare providers know that you are self-isolating so that they can take extra precautions to keep themselves healthy.
  • Stay, sleep and eat in a separate room away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom if you have one. If you must share a bathroom, ensure it is thoroughly disinfected before someone else uses it and keep the bathroom well ventilated.
  • Try not share items such as dishes, remote controls or electronic items with others in your home. If you must share, these items need to be disinfected before someone else uses them. 
  • High touch, shared surfaces such as door handles, faucets and light switches should be disinfected regularly.
  • Ask members of your household to review the information on this page.
  • Avoid all contact with people who are at more risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19. 
  • Avoid being in the same room as someone who is not infected with COVID-19. If you must share a room with other people, wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth and keep at least 2 metres apart. Other people should also wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.
  • Make sure that shared rooms have good airflow (for example, open windows for the entire time you are in a shared space).
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
  • Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket, and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal easier and safer.
  • Wash your hands after emptying the wastebasket.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own towel that no one else shares.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
If you have not tested positive for COVID-19, you need to regularly monitor yourself to determine if you need to get tested. Review the symptoms consistent with COVID-19 on the symptoms page. Monitor your symptoms using the How to Self-Monitor page and Self- Monitoring Form

Use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help decide if you need to get a COVID-19 test. Learn more about how and where to get tested on the Testing Information page. If you have been contacted by a health care provider, follow the advice that you have received regarding self-isolation and your symptoms. 

If you develop symptoms that are not associated with COVID-19, it is important that you still follow-up with medical care. If you are unsure, contact your health care provider or call 8-1-1. 

If is important to follow these steps for the entire length of your self-isolation period. Review the How Long Should I Self-Isolate page for more details on what is needed for your situation. ‎

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