Skip to main content

I have tested positive for COVID-19

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay home while you have symptoms. 

For the 7 days from when symptoms began or from the date of the positive test (if no symptoms), all people who test positive should also:

  • Avoid higher risk people and places 
  • Wear a well-fitting mask when in indoor public places, public transit, and crowded spaces.

Additional instructions:

  • If you haven’t already, complete the Report and Support form online or call 1-833-797-7772 if you need assistance.
  • Seek medical help if your symptoms get worse by calling 811 or 911.
  • People who work in high-risk settings should follow the direction of their organization’s Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness department.
  • Testing again soon after a positive test is not recommended. You do not need a negative test to be considered recovered.

Why should I complete the Report and Support form?

The Report and Support form will collect information to:

  • help quickly identify people within 5-7 days of testing positive who are eligible for and may benefit from COVID-19 medications and treatments to reduce the risk of severe disease and hospitalization and
  • help identify people as part of a priority group that might be at risk of severe illness for follow up. 

Please note: COVID-19 treatments do not benefit everyone. You will only be contacted if you qualify for medication or follow-up. If you do not qualify, you will not be called.

Calls to follow up on your Report and Support form may show up as an unknown number. It’s important that you answer the phone. Learn more here.

When am I infectious?

A person with COVID-19 is generally considered infectious (can spread COVID-19 to others):

  • Beginning 48 hours (two days) before symptoms started or from the date of the positive test (if no symptoms)
     
  • Ending when you are considered recovered. Typically, this is: 
    • 7 full days after the start of symptoms or from the date of the positive test (if no symptoms)
    • AND when symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting) and you don’t have a fever.

When am I considered recovered?

You are considered recovered when you are no longer infectious for COVID-19. Typically, this is:

  • 7 full days after the start of symptoms or from the date of the positive test (if no symptoms)
  • AND symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting) and you don’t have a fever

Some people may have a lingering cough, particularly if they are prone to chronic cough. However, if they meet the criteria above, they are no longer considered infectious.

Testing again soon after a positive test is not recommended. You do not need a negative test to be considered recovered.

Visit https://library.nshealth.ca/CovidRecovery/welcome for more information about your recovery from COVID-19.

How is staying home different than self-isolating?

If you test positive for COVID-19, it is recommended that you stay home while you have symptoms, however you do not have to self-isolate.

Staying home means:

  • Staying home is encouraged (you can go on your deck or balcony or in your yard), but not required for the duration of your infectious period
  • While at home, especially if you live with someone at greater risk for severe disease, consider taking steps to reduce risk in a shared living space. Find out how you can reduce risk in shared spaces (.pdf)
  • Your movement outside of the home is not limited. If you are unable to stay home you can reduce risk of spread to others by: (1) avoiding high-risk people and places and (2) wearing a well-fitted mask in indoor public places, public transit, and crowded spaces
  • It is recommended that you do not have visitors in your home

After I recover, when can I visit a higher risk person or place?

If you test positive, Public Health recommends waiting at least 7 days from when symptoms began or from the date of the positive test (if no symptoms) to visit someone who lives in a higher risk setting or is at higher risk for severe disease.

The following people, particularly if unvaccinated or vaccinated but not boosted, are at increased risk of severe disease:

  • Older adults (increasing risk with each decade, especially over 60 years)
  • Any age and living with:
    • lung disease
    • heart disease
    • diabetes
    • kidney disease
    • liver disease
    • dementia
    • cancer
    • neurodevelopmental conditions (such as Down Syndrome)
    • sickle cell disease
    • neurological conditions (e.g., epilepsy, stroke)
    • immunocompromised status, including those taking medications which lower the immune system, such as chemotherapy
    • obesity (Body Mass Index equal to or greater than 30)
  • Pregnant persons

Places which are considered at higher risk for severe disease include but are not limited to

  • Long-term care facilities 
  • Disability support programs, including residential care facilities 
  • Acute care settings 
  • Senior living facilities (e.g., retirement homes) 
  • Correctional facilities 
  • Shelters and transition homes 

Please note that people at higher risk of severe disease may also gather in other places, such as faith buildings or recreational/community centres.

Should I get tested after I’m recovered if I have new symptoms?

In the first 90 days (3 months) after you’ve recovered from COVID-19, testing is not necessary as you may have some short-term post-infection immunity. However, your immunity decreases as time goes on so you may choose to get tested again if you develop symptoms near the end of the three months.

PCR testing is not recommended within 90 days (3 months) of recovery as it may continue to detect the initial (now old) virus – however, if you choose to get tested, a rapid antigen test should be used. If you test positive, you should consider yourself reinfected and follow instructions for “I have tested positive”.

What supports are available for people with COVID-19?​

The Report and Support form:

  • Identifies people or groups that may be at increased risk for severe illness; and
  • collects information to help quickly identify people who are eligible for and may benefit from COVID-19 medications and treatments to reduce the risk of severe disease and hospitalization.

Pulse oximeters

Public Health supports Nova Scotians with access to pulse oximeters to monitor their oxygen levels at home if they have COVID-19. Pulse Oximeters are available to those who are eligible at COVID Testing Centres and Public Health Mobile Units, and through the Report and Support form.

If you received a pulse oximeter and have recovered, please return it so it can be cleaned and re-used by others who need it. You can bring the pulse oximeter to your local library and place it in a return box (available at all libraries except those in the Cumberland area). They can also be returned to any COVID-19 Testing Centre or Public Health Mobile Unit in your area.

If you have a pulse oximeter from Nova Scotia Health, you may receive a phone call about returning it. Please note these calls are being made by Nova Scotia Health representatives, they are not robocalls, and the number may come up as “unknown caller”.

Recovery support

Mental health support

  • Please visit https://novascotia.ca/mental-health-and-wellbeing/
  • If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call the Provincial Mental Health Crisis Line toll-free at 1-888-429-8167, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital or emergency department.

Food support

  • Please call 211 AND reach out to your local resources, Family Resource Centre or Schools Plus Coordinator.

Information about additional supports is available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/support/

I work in a high-risk setting

Those who work in high-risk settings should follow the direction of their organization’s Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness department.

My employer is requesting a recovery letter before I return to work

Employers should not be requiring recovery letters for employees to return to work. Nova Scotia is not providing letters for this purpose.

Accessing Primary Care

There are many ways to access primary care, even if you're not currently attached to a primary care provider.

Answer a few quick questions to receive personalized instructions for accessing Nova Scotia Health's primary care options near you including in-person, virtual and telephone options.

Get Started

Find Emergency Care

Use this tool to identify the emergency care options that are currently available nearest to you.

If this is a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance

Get Started

©2024 Nova Scotia Health Authority. All rights reserved.