I have been exposed to COVID-19, but do not have symptoms
Testing and isolation requirements are based on whether there is a positive case in your household. Additional testing is recommended for individuals who have a positive case in their household. Please follow instructions under the heading below that applies to you.
People who test positive for COVID-19 are not required to notify people outside their household, but have the option to do so.
Symptoms of COVID-19
Nova Scotians who have symptoms of COVID-19 must complete testing. Common symptoms include a new or worsening cough or two or more of these symptoms:
- fever (chills or sweats)
- sore throat
- runny nose
- shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
Being exposed to COVID-19 means:
- You were within six feet of the person for at least 15 minutes while indoors
- The person coughed or sneezed on you.
- The person touched, hugged or kissed you.
- You care for the person at home.
While masks provide an additional layer of protection, you would be considered exposed in any of the above situations, even if masked.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, follow the directions on this webpage.
If you test positive, you are considered a positive case of COVID-19. Please follow these instructions for your next steps (including how long to self-isolate).
If you are an employee who works in a high-risk setting (such as hospitals or long-term care facilities) and you have a positive case in your household, you must report to and follow the advice of your organization’s Occupational Health & Safety department as testing and isolation requirements may be different than public health guidance.
There is a positive case in my household, but I do not have symptoms.
- No isolation is required.
- Testing is recommended as soon as possible and again 72 hours after the member of your household tested positive. If a rapid test is used at 72 hours, repeating the test 48 hours later is encouraged.
- Monitor for symptoms. If symptoms develop, follow advice for household contacts with symptoms.
Please note: If you are an employee who works in high-risk settings (such as hospitals or long-term care facilities) and you have a positive case in your household, you must report to and follow the advice of your organization’s Occupational Health & Safety department as testing and isolation requirements may be different than public health guidance.
I’ve been exposed to COVID-19 outside of my household but do not have symptoms.
- No testing or isolation is required.
- Monitor for symptoms.
- If symptoms develop, self isolate and get tested as soon as possible. You can stop isolating if you receive a negative PCR test result OR you receive two negative rapid tests taken at least 48 hours apart.
I’ve recovered from COVID-19 but I have symptoms
Additional COVID-19 testing is usually not recommended for someone who has recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days (3 months).
During this time, you may have some short-term *post-infection immunity. However, with the Omicron variant, there is uncertainty about how long this immunity lasts. Some people do become sick with COVID-19 again during the 90-day period, and the risk goes up the closer you are to the end of the three months.
Therefore, if you develop new symptoms in these 3 months, stay home until 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.
You may choose to take a rapid test, particularly if you are nearing the end of the three months. If you test positive, you should consider this a new case and self-isolate for 7 days. If the test is negative, a second rapid test is recommended 48 hours later, and you should stay home until you are feeling better even if you continue to test negative.
PCR testing is not recommended within three months of recovery as it may continue to detect the old virus.
If you recovered from COVID-19 more than three months ago, follow the instructions here: https://www.nshealth.ca/i-have-covid-19-symptoms
Should I visit someone who is higher risk or a higher risk setting?
While someone is self-isolating after testing positive in your household, and for the 7 days after they finish isolating, Public Health recommends avoiding contact with people at higher risk of severe disease, or visiting higher risk settings like long-term care. You are at increased risk of being infected with COVID-19 during this time period. In addition, follow the testing guidance for a household exposure, above.
COVID-19 Testing Resources
- Living with COVID-19 - What is COVID-19? (.pdf)
- Living with COVID-19 – Testing & Isolation
- COVID-19 Testing Webpage
- COVID-19 testing: frequently asked questions
- Getting your PCR test results
- Rapid Testing 101 (.pdf)
- COVID-19 Rapid Testing: A Guide For Parents And Caregivers (.pdf)
- I Have Tested Positive for COVID-19