Learn about self-isolation and self-monitoring, what to do if you get sick, and how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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 should not self-isolate in a place where you will be in contact with vulnerable people, such as seniors and individuals with underlying health conditions.
If you have been exposed to the virus, you will be contacted by your regional health authority's public health team through a process called contact tracing. This means you are a contact of a confirmed case. If you do not have symptoms, you will be asked to self-isolate so that if you develop COVID-19, you won’t spread it to others in the community. Learn about contact tracing and what’s involved on our Contact tracing page.
- Stay at home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
- 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.
- If you need to leave your home for an essential medical visit or COVID-19 testing, wear a mask. It is best to walk or drive yourself if you can. If you can’t get there on your own, ask a relative or friend to drive but wear a mask and open the vehicle's windows. A taxi or public transit can be used if needed but wear a mask and open windows in a car and sit as far away from others as possible.
- 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 self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days upon their arrival
and complete the federal ArriveCAN application
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 symptoms
should get tested for COVID-19. You will also be required to self-isolate for at least 14 days from your arrival in Canada or 10 days after onset of symptoms, whichever is longer.
Example 1: Symptoms appear five days after returning to Canada. Self-isolate for 10 additional days for a total of 15 days.
Example 2: Symptoms appear two days after returning to Canada but they quickly improve and you feel better. 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 COVID-19 such as fever, cough, sore throat, etc. For the full list of symptoms, visit the symptoms page.
Take and record temperature daily and avoid the use of fever reducing medications (e.g., acetaminophen, ibuprofen) as much possible.
These medications could mask early symptoms of COVID-19; if these medications must be taken, clients 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 or worsening of chronic cough, sore throat, runny nose and shortness of breath. For the full list of symptoms, visit the symptoms page.
- If you develop symptoms, you should get tested for COVID-19. If you are unsure, you can use the B.C. 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. Find a location to get tested.
- 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.
- Ensure that you isolate immediately and avoid contact with others. You will need to continue to self-isolate while you wait for your test results. This means staying away from others as much as possible. See this guide to isolation if you have respiratory symptoms.
- If you are caregiver to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has respiratory symptoms and needs to isolate, see this guide for caregivers.
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and have 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, check with your health care provider.
Sometimes people with COVID-19 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.
If you became ill after being in contact with a confirmed case or arriving from outside of Canada, continue to self-isolate for 14 days or 10 days after symptoms started, whichever is longer.For more information, please visit our If you are Sick page.
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.