How to quarantine or isolate at home if you have or may have COVID-19

Public health advice across Canada varies widely due to local situations, which are rapidly changing. It’s important that you continue to follow the recommendations and restrictions of your local public health authority, including isolation and quarantine requirements.

Quarantine and isolation can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. This is especially important with the spread of variants of concern in Canada. Follow your local public health authority’s advice on when and how to quarantine or isolate.

If you’ve travelled outside of Canada recently, advice for your quarantine or isolation period may be different. Consult the latest travel restrictions, exemptions and advice at travel.gc.ca/travel-covid.

Quarantine

Quarantine if you have no symptoms and if you’ve had an exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with or may have COVID-19.

There may be different quarantine requirements if you or any of your household members have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Follow the instructions from your local public health authority.

If you’ve been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting for your results, you must quarantine until:

  • you have received negative results or
  • your local public health authority tells you that you no longer need to quarantine

How to quarantine

When in quarantine, you must:

  • stay in your home or co-living setting
  • monitor yourself for symptoms (even just one mild symptom)
  • record your temperature daily or as directed by your local public health authority
  • avoid using fever-reducing medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen as much as possible, as these medications could hide an early symptom of COVID-19
  • follow your local public health authority’s advice on testing instructions

If you’re in quarantine and don’t live with the person who exposed you to COVID-19, wear a well-constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask when:

  • alone or with others in shared indoor spaces, like:
    • hallways
    • the kitchen
    • washrooms
  • your household members are with you in a private outdoor space, like:
    • a balcony
    • the backyard
  • you need care (either direct physical care or close-range interactions)
    • your caregiver should also wear a non-medical mask

If you develop symptoms during quarantine:

  • isolate yourself away from others as soon as you notice even one mild symptom
  • wear a medical mask
    • if unavailable, wear a well-constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask
  • contact your health care provider or local public health authority for instructions immediately

Isolation

Isolate if:

  • you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, regardless if you have symptoms or
  • you have any symptom of COVID-19, even if mild, and have:
    • had an exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with or may have COVID-19 or
    • been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting to hear the results or
    • been told by your local public health authority that you need to isolate

If you’re isolating at home, your household members may need to quarantine after their last exposure to you. Your local public health authority will determine their length of quarantine based on a variety of factors, including:

  • your vaccination status and
  • how well they can separate from you in your home or co-living setting (like whether you have access to a separate bedroom and washroom)

How to isolate

  • Go directly to and stay in your home or co-living setting.
  • Monitor your symptoms.
    • Immediately contact your health care provider or local public health authority and follow their instructions if your symptoms get worse.
  • Follow advice from your local public health authority for instructions on testing.

Wear a medical mask when:

  • alone or with others in shared indoor spaces, like:
    • hallways
    • the kitchen
    • washrooms
  • your household members are with you in a private outdoor space, like:
    • a balcony
    • the backyard
  • you need care (either direct physical care or close-range interactions)
    • your caregiver should also wear a medical mask

If you must be in a shared indoor or private outdoor space with your household members, they should wear a:

  • medical mask or
  • well-constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask

Some household members may be at risk of more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 because of their age or a chronic medical condition. They should wear a medical mask when in a shared indoor or private outdoor space with you.

If a medical mask is recommended but not available, wear a well-constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask.

What you can and can’t do in quarantine or isolation

Do

While in quarantine or isolation, you should:

  • follow all advice and direction from your local public health authority
  • maintain the greatest physical distance possible with other household members
  • open windows to keep rooms ventilated, when possible
  • clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects
  • wash your hands often with soap and water
    • if unavailable, use hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol

If possible, you should also:

  • work from home
  • exercise at home
  • rest and eat a balanced diet
  • go outside on your private balcony, deck or backyard
  • ask a family member, neighbour or friend to deliver essentials to you
  • use technology, such as video calls, to keep in touch with family and friends

Ensure you and your household members are wearing the recommended type of mask in the appropriate situations.

Children under the age of 2 years should not wear masks. Children 2 to 5 years of age may wear a mask if they:

  • can tolerate it
  • are supervised
  • know how to take it on or off

Children older than 5 years of age should wear a mask in the same situations or settings as adults.

Take precautions with your pets by:

  • practising good hygiene
  • avoiding close contact with pets
  • walking your pet only on your own property
  • having another member of your household care for your pet
    • if not possible, find someone to help with pet care, like family, friends or social services

Don’t

While in quarantine or isolation, do not:

  • visit public areas
  • go to work or school
  • visit friends or family
  • have guests over to your home
  • participate in household group activities like:
    • shared meals
    • family games
    • watching television together
  • leave your home or co-living setting unless you need medical care
  • have contact with anyone at risk of more severe disease or outcomes (based on their age or chronic medical condition)
  • share personal items

Do not use shared indoor spaces or private outdoor spaces with your household members. If not possible, use a separate:

  • room for sleeping, or if not possible:
    • sleep in a separate bed, positioned head-to-toe to keep as far away from one another as possible
  • washroom, or if not possible:
    • open the window
    • put the toilet lid down before flushing
    • clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that have been touched after each use

If you develop severe symptoms

Call 911 or your local emergency number if you develop severe symptoms, such as:

  • significant difficulty breathing
  • chest pain or pressure
  • new onset of confusion
  • difficulty waking up

If you take an ambulance to the hospital, tell the dispatcher that you have or may have COVID-19.

If you take a private vehicle to the hospital, call ahead to let them know that that you have or may have COVID-19. If possible, only one healthy person should drive you. While in the car:

  • you should maintain physical distance (sit in the back of the car away from the driver)
  • you and any other passenger should wear a medical mask (or if unavailable, a well-constructed and well-fitting non-medical mask)
  • open vehicle windows while travelling to the hospital

Do not use public transportation to seek medical care unless you have no choice.

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