Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 will have mild to moderate symptoms and can be safely managed as an outpatient in the community setting.
Last updated: December 17, 2020 12:00 PM
Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 will have mild to moderate symptoms and can be safely managed as an outpatient. Learn about the criteria, isolation, discontinuation of isolation, and recommendations for care at home.
Clinical judgement remains important in the differential diagnosis and work-up of individuals presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., people with allergies). If you have questions about the COVID-19 test, this FAQ explains how the test works, what the test results mean, reasons for false negative results, the levels of virus shedding, and the sensitivity of the test.
Patients who have been tested for COVID-19 are required to self-isolate while they wait for their results. A handout is available:
You may be asked to provide guidance to your patient on self-isolation requirements if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been tested.
- Isolate for a minimum of 10 days since symptom onset, AND
- Fever resolves without the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g. Tylenol, Advil), AND
- Symptoms have improved
Coughing may persist for several weeks, so coughing alone does not require the patient to continue to isolate.
Patients who are contacts of confirmed cases or international travellers are required to isolate at home for a minimum of 10 days after onset of their symptoms or 14 days from last potential exposure, whichever is later.
More information for patients is available on the If you are sick page.
- Patients who are contacts of a confirmed case or international travellers are required to continue to self-isolate for 14 days from the last day of their potential exposure – i.e. last contact with a case or the day they landed in Canada.
- After a negative COVID-19 test result, most people can stop isolating if their symptoms are gone. If symptoms persist, patients should monitor how they feel. If their symptoms get worse, they should connect with a health care provider or call 8-1-1.
- Health care providers should check with their employer about self-isolation following a negative test. Workplaces may have different return to work policies after a negative COVID-19 test.
People who live in the same household as a patient with COVID-19 are at higher risk of being exposed. If a person lives in the same household as a patient who tests positive for COVID-19, they will need to self-isolate for 14 days from the last time they were in close contact without appropriate personal protective equipment. Public health can advise individuals on their specific circumstances.
As much as possible, household contacts should distance themselves from the patient (e.g. stay in separate rooms, sleep in separate beds and use separate bathrooms if possible). More information can be found on the
The BCCDC surveillance team has compiled a symptom profile for COVID-19 cases in B.C. The data for the profile were collected from symptoms reported using the COVID-19 case report form and entered into B.C.’s public health information system for communicable diseases, Panorama. The case report form provides a snapshot of an individual’s illness at the time of their interview with public health.
The purpose of the symptom profile is to provide health professionals with information about reports of illness in B.C. so they can make clinical judgements about the care of their patients.