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COVID-19 self-isolation

Stay home if you are ill, have symptoms of flu such as a fever or cough to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

If you have COVID-19 or respiratory symptoms, self-isolating at home is the best way to prevent the spread of contagious respiratory illnesses including novel coronavirus. 

Follow the advice that you have received from your health care provider. If you have questions, or you start to feel worse, contact your health care provider, 8-1-1, or complete the COVID-19 symptom self-assessment tool.

Who needs to self-isolate?

  • People who are awaiting the results of their COVID-19 test must self-isolate until they receive their results.

  • People who test positive for COVID-19  must self-isolate, which means staying home and avoiding contact with others, for at least 10 days after the start of symptoms.

  • People identified as close contacts and at risk of developing COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 days after their last contact with an ill person. VCH Public Health will contact you directly to give you instructions if you are an identified contact.

How long to self-isolate?

  • 14 days (incubation period) - If you have had contact with a suspected case of COVID-19 or are returning from travel outside of Canada, you must self-isolate for 14 days (incubation period).

  • 10 days (contagious period) - If you are experiencing mild respiratory symptoms, we recommend that you self-isolate at home for at least 10 days from the time that your symptoms started. After 10 days, if all your symptoms have resolved, aside from a cough, you can stop self-isolating. If you still have symptoms, other than a cough, at 10 days, you should stay at home until these symptoms resolve and seek medical care if they do not. If at any time, you experience worsening symptoms and increased difficulty of breathing, do not hesitate to seek urgent medical care.

For more details, refer to the VCH COVID-19 isolation clearance criteria.

How to self-isolate?

  • Do not go to work, school, or public areas including places of worship, stores, shopping malls and restaurants.

  • Cancel or reschedule non-urgent appointments.

  • Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.

  • If leaving your home for medical care, call ahead and tell the medical facility that you are coming in so they can prepare for you. 

  • You can use delivery/pick up services for groceries or other needs, but avoid face to face contact. Face to face contact means you are within 1-2 metres (3-6 feet) of another person.‎

  • It is okay for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food or other necessities, but try to have them drop off deliveries outside of your home. 

  • Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, lung problems, heart disease or weakened immune system).

  • Stay away from other people in your home as much as possible by using a separate room, separate bed and separate bathroom if available.

  • Flush toilet with the lid down – the virus may also be present in stool. 

  • Do not share dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with people in your home. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water. 

  • Make sure that shared rooms have good airflow (e.g. open windows).

  • Do not prepare or serve food for others.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g. counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables) once per day with regular household disinfectant or a solution containing 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. 

  • Use a face mask in shared spaces. 

  • Household members should stay in another home or place of residence if possible. 

  • If you are in a room with other people, keep distance of at least two metres and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

  • If you cannot wear a mask, people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when your cough or sneeze.

  • Cough or sneeze into 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 and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 

  • Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares.

  • If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based sanitizer, however, always wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet. 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 

  • Learn more about handwashing on HealthLink BC.

  • Download How to clean your hands - Poster

  • Wear a mask (surgical or procedure mask) if you must leave your house to see a health-care provider.

  • Wear a mask when you are with other people.

  • If your mask gets wet or dirty, change it. 

  • You are required to stay home and isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the onset of any symptoms. You may return to your regular activities if after 10 days, you feel better, your fever has resolved AND your other symptoms have improved.

  • Coughing may persist for several weeks, so coughing alone does not require you to continue to isolate.

  • If your illness worsens or you require medical care because you have a medical condition that puts you at greater risk for severe illness, your health-care provider may require you to isolate until testing can confirm that you have recovered from the virus.

Additional resources and translated materials are available on the BCCDC self-isolation page

Monitor your symptoms

Pay attention to your health and how you are feeling. Seek medical attention if you have trouble breathing, are unable to tolerate fluids, or if your illness is worsening. Notify health care facilities and health care providers (e.g. emergency departments, ambulance paramedics, doctor’s offices) before you visit. 

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.

Entering B.C. from another province or territory

If you travel to B.C. from another province or territory, you do not need to self-quarantine when entering B.C. You must follow the same province-wide restrictions as everyone in B.C.


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