COVID-19: Symptoms, treatment, what to do if you feel sick

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COVID-19 symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary:

Some of the more commonly reported symptoms include:

If you don’t feel well or if you have any symptoms, even if mild, assume you may have COVID-19. Immediately isolate at home and away from others. Check with your local public health authority for more advice, including where and how to get tested if recommended.

You may be infected but not have symptoms. However, you can still spread the virus to others. You may:

If you’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, contact your local public health authority for advice on what to do next.

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Start of symptoms

You may start experiencing symptoms anywhere from 1 to 14 days after exposure. Typically, symptoms appear between 3 and 7 days after exposure.  

Vaccination prevents severe illness

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect our families, communities and ourselves against COVID-19. Evidence indicates that the vaccines used in Canada are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

However, vaccines are not 100% effective and you may still become infected with or without symptoms.

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Public health measures

When layered together, public health measures are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19, including variants of concern.

Regardless of your vaccination status, you should continue to:

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If you have severe symptoms

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

Follow instructions for safe transport if taking an ambulance or a private vehicle to a hospital or clinic.

What to do if you’re sick or were exposed

It’s important that you continue to follow the recommendations and restrictions of your local public health authority on quarantine or isolation if you:

If you have to quarantine or isolate, follow appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of illness spreading within your home. If you don’t have somewhere safe to isolate, contact your local public health authority for available options.

Adults and children with mild COVID-19 symptoms can stay at home while recovering. You don’t need to go to the hospital if symptoms are mild.

Check with your local public health authority about quarantine or isolation periods, and reporting.

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Caring for others

You may be caring for someone at home who has or may have COVID-19. If so, you should follow the appropriate precautions to reduce the risk of illness spreading within your home.

Adults and children with mild COVID-19 symptoms can stay at home while recovering. You don’t need to go to the hospital if symptoms are mild.

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Treating COVID-19

If you’re concerned about your symptoms, consult your health care provider. They may recommend steps or medications you can take to relieve some of your symptoms, like fever and cough.

Follow the advice of your health care provider, who may prescribe treatments.

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Long-term symptoms

Some people who become infected with COVID-19 may experience long-term symptoms, even after they recover from their initial infection. This is sometimes called post COVID-19 condition or long COVID. It has also been called post-acute COVID-19 syndrome (PACS) or long haul COVID.

Studies are underway to further understand what causes post COVID-19 condition and how to diagnose and treat it.

If you think you have this condition, talk to your health care provider about how to manage your symptoms.

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