Learn about self-isolation and self-monitoring, what to do if you get sick, and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
People who have been contacted by their regional health authority's public health team because they are contacts of a confirmed case, meaning they have been or could have been exposed to the virus but do not have symptoms, are required to self-isolate. British Columbians returning from the Kearl Lake project, near Fort McMurray, Alberta, from March 24 onward, are also ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.
Self-isolation means staying home and avoiding situations where you could come in contact with others. You may have been exposed to the virus and are at risk for developing COVID-19 and passing it on to others. You may not self-isolate in a place where you will be in contact with vulnerable people, such as seniors and individuals with underlying health conditions.
See the self-isolation dos and don'ts information sheet:
- Stay at home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, do not use public transport or taxis.
- Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer often.
- Ask friends or relatives if you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication. Alternatively, you can order groceries and medication by phone or online.
- Do not have visitors in your home except if they are providing care or delivering goods and supplies, and in that case, maintain a distance of 2 metres.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
- Self-isolation can end 14 days after the last contact or return to Canada if you have not developed symptoms.
As of March 25, 2020 it is mandatory Under the Quarantine Act
. that anyone arriving in British Columbia from outside of Canada to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days upon their arrival
and complete/register a self-isolation plan
There are some individuals who are exempt from this order to provide essential services, but they still need to self-monitor for symptoms.
Returning travellers that develop respiratory symptoms are also required to self-isolate for at least 14 days or 10 days after onset of symptoms, whichever is longer.
Example 1: Respiratory symptoms appear five days after returning to Canada. Self-isolate for 10 additional days for a total of 15 days.
Example 2: Respiratory symptoms appear two days after returning to Canada. Self-isolate for 10 days after the onset of symptoms, plus an additional 2 days for a total of 14 days.
While you are self-isolating, you will be required to monitor for new symptoms or signs of coronavirus such as fever, cough, sore throat, etc.
- Take and record temperature daily and avoid the use of fever reducing medications (e.g., acetaminophen, ibuprofen) as much possible.
- These medications could mask an early symptom of COVID-19; if these medications must be taken, client should advise their healthcare provider.
- Average normal body temperature taken orally is about 37°C. For more on normal body temperature and fevers, see HealthLinkBC's information for children age 11 and younger and for people age 12 and older.
- Symptoms of COVID-19 are like other respiratory illnesses. Commonly, these are fever/chills, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath. Shortness of breath and chest pain can be signs of severe illness.
- If you develop symptoms, use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine if you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. You can complete this assessment for yourself, or on behalf of someone else, if they are unable to.
- After doing the self-assessment tool, if you still have questions, contact your healthcare provider or call 8-1-1 for guidance.
- If the symptoms are severe such as shortness of breath (e.g. struggling to breathe or speak in single words) or chest pain, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Department.
As a precaution, Public Health asks that if you have respiratory symptoms that can be managed at home, please self-isolate until the following criteria are met:
- At least 10 days have passed since the start of your symptoms, AND
- Your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g. Tylenol, Advil), AND
- You are feeling better (e.g. improvement in runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue).
Coughing may persist for several weeks, so coughing alone does not require you to continue to isolate. If you are unsure whether your symptoms are related to allergies or an infection, then self-isolation is recommended.
Sometimes people with COVID have mild illness, but their symptoms may suddenly worsen in a few days. If your symptoms worsen or you become short of breath, call your family physician or nurse practitioner for immediate medical attention. If you are unable to reach your regular care provider, seek care in an Urgent & Primary Care Centre (UPCC) or Emergency Department.
For more information, please visit our If you are Sick
It is better if those you live with can stay somewhere else, especially if they have a weak immune system or chronic health conditions. If you need to share a home, stay and sleep in a room with good airflow that is away from others. Use a separate bathroom if you can. Wear a face mask (surgical/procedure mask) if you are in the same room with anyone. Avoid face to face contact; friends or family can drop off food outside your room or home. If you are a caregiver to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has respiratory symptoms, see this guide.