I have tested positive

If you test positive, you are no longer required to notify people outside of your household with whom you had contact in the 48 hours before you developed symptoms or tested positive. However, you still have the option to do so.

Nova Scotia continues to require all COVID-19 cases to isolate for 7 days from the onset of symptoms, or positive test (if no symptoms). 

Please read the detailed instructions below for direction on what to do when you test positive.

I tested positive with a PCR test, what next?

As someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, it’s important for you to complete these actions: 

  • At least seven days after the start of symptoms or positive test (if no symptoms).
  • You can leave isolation the morning of the 8th day if you no longer have symptoms or your symptoms are improving, and you have not had a fever for at least 24 hours. You can use the COVID-19 day tracker to determine your end isolation date.
  • Complete the Report and Support screening form, if you have not already completed it https://c19hc.nshealth.ca/self-report or call 1-833-797-7772 if you need help completing the form.

The form will:

  • 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
  • identify people who may need additional support from Public Health

The information will be shared with the Infectious Diseases COVID-19 care team, the COVID-19 Community Virtual Care Team and Public Health to support management and follow-up of priority cases.  For those who complete the form before PCR testing and test negative, your information will not be used further, and will be deleted. 

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

  • 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.
     

I tested positive with a rapid test, what next?

Nova Scotians who test positive for COVID-19 on a rapid test have the option to get a confirmation PCR test to confirm their positive result.

  • If your PCR results confirm that you are positive for COVID-19, your isolation period begins from the day your symptoms started or of your positive rapid test (if no symptoms).
  • If your PCR results come back negative, you are NOT considered a positive case of COVID-19 and can stop isolating.
  • If you choose not to get a PCR test, follow the instructions below.

As someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, it’s important for you to complete these actions: 

You must self-isolate for:

  • At least seven days after the start of symptoms or a positive test (if no symptoms).
  • You can leave isolation the morning of the 8th day if you no longer have symptoms or your symptoms are improving, and you have not had a fever for at least 24 hours. You can use the COVID-19 day tracker to determine your end isolation date.
  • If there are others in your household, tell them to follow instructions based on whether they have symptoms, or do not have symptoms.
  • Complete the Report and Support screening form, if you have not already completed it https://c19hc.nshealth.ca/self-report or call 1-833-797-7772 if you require assistance completing the form.

The form will:

  • 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
  • identify people who may need additional support from Public Health

The information will be shared with the Infectious Diseases COVID-19 care team, the COVID-19 Community Virtual Care Team and Public Health to support management and follow-up of priority cases.  For those who complete the form before PCR testing and test negative, your information will not be used further, and will be deleted. 

  • 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.

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, if no symptoms, 48 hours before the positive test was taken, and 
     
  • Ending when they are considered recovered. Typically, this is: 
    • 7 full days after the start of symptoms (or 7 full days from test date 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 symptoms have started OR after your positive test was collected, if you had 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

You can use the COVID-19 day tracker to determine your recovery/end isolation date.

Some individuals 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 infectious and are safe to stop isolating.

If there are multiple positive cases in a household, recovery dates will vary based on when each person’s symptoms started or when testing was completed. Your recovery date applies to you. You are considered recovered on this date (no longer infectious) and may leave isolation.

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

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

If you test positive, you must complete your 7-day isolation. Public Health recommends waiting an additional 3 days (until 10 days after the start of your symptoms or, if no symptoms, the date of your positive test) to visit someone who is at higher risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or those in higher risk settings like long-term care facilities.

 

Should I get tested after I’m recovered?

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.

What supports are available for people with COVID-19?

  • The Report and Support screening form: https://c19hc.nshealth.ca/self-report will:
    • 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
    • identify people who may need additional support from Public Health

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.

Can I leave my house while isolating?

Positive cases or people with symptoms who are in isolation may leave their home for a maximum of one hour, once per day for outdoor exercise, within walking/running distance of their home or isolation site. Those who leave their home for this one-hour period are not permitted to enter indoor public or private spaces, except to access urgent medical care or COVID-19 testing. They must maintain 2 metres of physical distance from others at all times, and must wear a mask if distance cannot be maintained.

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). We do not recommend testing within this timeframe.

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

Resources for Positive Cases