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Self-Isolation and Self-Monitoring

When you self-monitor, check yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested right away if you think you may be sick.

When you self-isolate, stay home and keep away from others to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Last updated: August 23, 2021
  • If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you will need to self-monitor for 14 days.
  • Some close contacts may also need to self-isolate for part of that time. For example, if you are not fully vaccinated, you may need to self-isolate for 10 of the 14 days. 
  • Follow the directions provided to you by Public Health. 
  • Being sufficiently protected by vaccination means you have received all the recommended vaccine doses and had time to develop a better immune response after receiving the last dose.
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.

Travellers entering Canada must follow testing and quarantine requirements. There are some exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers and children or dependents who are permitted to enter Canada. 


Learn more about vaccinated travellers entering Canada.


For those who are not eligible for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption, it is mandatory under the Quarantine Act to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days upon arrival. Follow the instructions provided by the Government of Canada.


Before entering Canada, you must complete the federal ArriveCAN application digitally. After entry into Canada, you must use the ArriveCAN app daily to submit your COVID-19 Self-Assessment. 


During your quarantine period as a traveller, if you develop any symptom of COVID-19, get tested. If you 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 will need to extend your self-isolation. 

 

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. 

Visit How to Self-Isolate for more details on caring for yourself and reducing the spread of the virus to others. ‎

If you are returning from travelling outside of Canada and test positive for COVID-19, you need to follow the quarantine requirements set by the federal government.
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 metres 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. Review the information on How to self-isolate after a test.
All contacts need to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19. People who are close contacts need to get tested even if they develop even one of the COVID-19 symptoms. 

If you are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19 and you have not been fully immunized, you may need to self-isolate for 10 days since you last had contact with this person. Public Health will help you decide based on your vaccination status, the dates you were vaccinated, and whether you have had COVID-19 in the past. They will use this information to guide you on which steps you need to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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.  

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-monitor for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 for 14 days after being exposed. You and all others who live in the household with someone who has COVID-19 may also need to self-isolate. Public Health will help you decide based on your vaccination status, the dates you were vaccinated, and whether you have had COVID-19 in the past.  They will use this information to guide you on which steps you need to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


If another person in your household tests positive for COVID-19, this may extend the amount of time that you will need self-monitor and 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. ‎

 



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.

The COVID-19 self-isolation period has been reduced to from 14 to 10 days for individuals who had a COVID-19 exposure and have been identified as close contacts by Public Health. Research evidence shows that 10 days is now long enough to prevent most community spread of COVID-19. ‎

 
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 or for the amount of time Public Health has told you to self-isolate. 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. 
  • 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 and you have not been immunized, you need to self-isolate for 10 days since you last had contact with this person. You also need to self-monitor for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 for 14 days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19. Close contacts need to get tested if they develop any symptom consistent with COVID-19. This is because it can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms of COVID-19 after being exposed. You can transmit COVID-19 if you are infected, even before you develop symptoms.

If you had a COVID-19 infection in the past or if you have been partially or fully immunized, you may not need to self-isolate. Public health will help you decide which steps to take based on how you were exposed to COVID-19, the dates of your first and second dose of vaccine, or when you recovered from COVID-19.

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 10 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 10 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 10-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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If you are permitted to enter Canada but not fully vaccinated or exempt from quarantine requirements, it is mandatory under the Quarantine Act to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days. There are some exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers who are permitted to enter Canada and who meet specific conditions. Learn more about vaccinated travellers entering Canada.

Visit the Government of Canada for more details about:
Travellers who do not self-isolate may face fines or other, serious penalties. 

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. 

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  • 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).
If you are a close contact and you don’t have a cough, you can go outside of your home in some circumstances. People who are self-isolating because they have COVID-19 or recently arrived from outside of Canada, should generally stay home unless seeking medical care.

In some cases, your local public health officials may offer additional advice on going outside when self-isolating.

If you need to walk your dog, get fresh air, take out the garbage, or use shared laundry or mail rooms: 
  • Wear a well-fitted 3-layer mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin. 
  •  Stay 2 metres away from others at all times, inside and outside. 
  •  Go outside at quieter times, when there are fewer people around. 
  • Only go to places where you know you will have space to distance yourself from others.
  • Avoid shouting, singing or exercising that makes you breathe harder, as these activities increase the chance of spreading COVID-19. 
  • Walks can be with one other person who is also a close-contact in your household (maximum two people out together). 
  • Clean hands before touching anything outside of your home. 
  • Do not stop to talk to others, even if you are wearing a mask and staying 2 meters apart. 
If you live in a condo or apartment: 
  • Wear a well-fitted 3-layer mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin when in shared areas of your building like hallways.
  • Stay 2 metres away from others at all times, inside and outside. 
  • Avoid busy waiting areas and elevators. 
  • Take the stairs if possible. 
  • If you must take the elevator, ride alone or with one other household member who is also self-isolating. 
  • Do not use common areas such as gyms or pools.
  • 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.  

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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