I have tested positive

If you test positive for COVID-19, you should stay home while you have symptoms. You are no longer required to self-isolate.

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:

Additional instructions:

  • If you have not done so already, complete the Report and Support screening form at https://c19hc.nshealth.ca/self-report or call 1-833-797-7772 if you need help completing the form.
  • Seek medical help if your symptoms get worse by calling 811 or 911.
  • Those who work in high-risk settings should follow the direction of their organization’s Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness department.

Why should I complete the Report and Support screening form?

The Report and Support screening 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 Public Health follow up. 

This information is used to identify people within 5-7 days of testing positive who are at high risk of severe illness and may therefore benefit from COVID-19 treatments. COVID-19 treatments do not benefit everyone. For those who complete the form before PCR testing and test negative, your information will not be used further, and will be deleted.

Please note, you will only be contacted if you qualify for medication or Public Health follow-up. If you do not qualify, you will not be called.

Calls from any of the above teams may show up as an unknown number. It’s important that you answer the phone.

Learn more at https://www.nshealth.ca/reportandsupport.

 

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 continue to 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.

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. As of July 6, 2022 the recommendation to stay home takes the place of the requirement for self-isolation that has been in place since the pandemic started.

There are few key differences between staying home and self-isolating:

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)
  • Does not limit your movement outside of the home. If you are unable to stay home you can reduce risk of spread to others by: (1) avoiding high-risk people and settings and (2) wearing a well-fitted mask in indoor public places, public transit, and crowded spaces
  • Recommends that you do not have visitors in your home, but it is not a requirement

Self-isolation means:

  • Staying home is required – don’t go to work, school, or other public places (you can go on your deck or balcony or in your yard, but you need to avoid contact with other people)
  • Limit contact with people you live with as much as possible
  • Use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if you can
  • Have groceries and other supplies delivered
  • Only leave your home once per day for outdoor exercise within walking or running distance of where you’re self-isolating for a maximum of 1 hour – you need to keep a physical distance of 2 meters (6 feet) from others (or wear a mask) and can’t visit other buildings, go to outdoor fitness classes or personal training sessions
  • Do not use public transit or taxis
  • Do not be in any shared spaces with older adults, or with people who have chronic conditions or a compromised immune system
  • Do not have visitors to your home or where you’re self-isolating

Staying home is less restrictive, and is another step toward living with COVID-19. To learn more ways to slow the spread, visit https://www.nshealth.ca/protecting-myself-and-others.

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

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 (BMI 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 congregate 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?

In the first 90 days (3 months) after you’ve recovered from COVID-19, 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 old virus – instead, a rapid test is recommended. 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 screening form: https://c19hc.nshealth.ca/self-report will:
    • identify people or groups that may be at increased risk for severe illness; and
    • collect 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.

If you need help completing the form, you can call 1-833-797-7772.

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.

I need a recovery letter for travel or a medical procedure

If you are travelling, it is important that you research the requirements of your destination country, and those for returning home to Canada. Many countries have different requirements for entry.

If you tested positive for COVID-19 in Nova Scotia and you need documentation for travel or a medical procedure, you can request a recovery letter through this online form. This is not an official public health record; it is based on your self-reported information.

If you are using the letter for travel purposes, we cannot guarantee it will be accepted by the country to which you are traveling but it is the only letter that can be provided. Nova Scotians cannot request additional COVID-19 documentation from Public Health.

Some jurisdictions, including Canada, will not accept a recovery letter.

Many people who tested positive on a PCR test in Nova Scotia already have an email notification of their result. Alternatively, your test result will be available for 190 days on the Nova Scotia Health portal for PCR results.

If you tested positive with a rapid test, you can get a recovery letter based on your self-reported information through the online request form. However, no official public health record or proof can be provided for a rapid test result.

If you tested positive outside of Nova Scotia, you will need to contact public health in the province, territory or country where you tested positive.

Nova Scotia Health is not responsible for COVID-19 testing and documentation for travel purposes. It is critical to maintain all documentation around your COVID-19 diagnosis going forward, as there could be wait times and charges for copies of this information in the future.

Please remember that if a travel destination or someone else requires a negative test result, you can contact a private company for information about their testing services. Nova Scotia Health does not provide testing for this purpose.

It is important to remember that once recovered from COVID-19, you can still test positive for up to three months (90 days).

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