I have COVID-19 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)
  • headache
  • nausea/vomiting/diarrhea

COVID-19 Exposure

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 have been exposed to COVID-19, but are not experiencing symptoms, 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.

I have symptoms and there’s a positive case in my household*

*A household contact is anyone who lives in the home with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (positive case) while that person was infectious. This includes any guest(s) staying in the home overnight.

  • Self-isolate.
  • Complete a COVID-19 test as soon as possible, and again 72 hours (3 days) after symptoms start.
  • If using rapid tests, stay isolated and test again 48 hours later (day 5).

You can only stop isolating after you receive:

  • a negative PCR test result from the test collected 72 hours (3 days) after your symptoms started 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.

OR

  • a total of three negative rapid tests: one taken as soon as possible, one taken 72 hours (3 days) after symptoms started, and one taken on day 5, 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.

If you do not complete testing, you are required to isolate a full 7 days from the day your symptoms started.

Note: if someone new in your household tests positive (and you are still testing negative), restart your testing protocol from this date.

If you have recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, you do not need to test. However, you should stay home until your symptoms are improving (and no fever for at least 24 hours).

 

I have symptoms and I have been exposed to COVID-19 outside my household

  • Self-isolate.
  • Get tested as soon as possible.

You can stop isolating after you receive one negative PCR test result or two negative rapid test results: one taken immediately and the second taken 48 hours (2 days) later. You are encouraged to stay home until your symptoms improve.

I have symptoms and I don’t know if I’ve been exposed to COVID-19 outside my household

  • Self-isolate.
  • Get tested as soon as possible.

You can stop isolating after you receive one negative PCR test result or two negative rapid test results: one taken immediately and the second taken 48 hours (2 days) later. You are encouraged to stay home until your symptoms improve.

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 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 based on whether there is a case in your household, you were exposed outside of your household, or you do not know if you were exposed.

COVID-19 Testing Resources