Information for people who have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19

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: 

  • Reach out to close contacts.
    Due to the significant surge in COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia, Public Health asks that you notify any community contacts. This includes workplaces, friends, family and anyone with whom you attended a social gathering, event, or extracurricular activities and had close contact during your infectious period.  Please tell them to visit https://www.nshealth.ca/information-covid-19-close-contacts for detailed directions on self-isolation and testing based on vaccination status.
    • Understanding what it means to notify your close contacts (.pdf)
       
    • Note: ​Public Health will continue to be responsible for notifying close contacts in the following settings:​
      • Long-term care facilities
      • Corrections facilities
      • Shelters
      • First Nations communities
      • Other congregate (group living) settings
         
  • Expect a text message from Public Health. People with a cell phone will receive a text notification to confirm you have tested positive. Please note: If you have a landline, you will still receive this information in your call from Public Health. 
     
  • Register for Public Health’s daily check-in service. A link to this service will be included in your text notification.  
     
  • Complete the Report and Support screening form, if you have not already completed it https://c19hc.nshealth.ca/self-report

    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. It will also be used to identify people who may need additional support from Public Health.

    The information will be shared with Public Health, the Infectious Diseases COVID-19 care team, and the COVID-19 Community Virtual Care Team 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. 
     

  • You may receive a call from the COVID Community Virtual Care Team (CCVCT) if you are identified as being at high risk of severe illness or hospitalization based on the information you provide at the time of testing or receiving results.
    • These calls – and calls from Public Health – may show up as an unknown number. It’s important that you answer the phone.
      A virtual care team member give you information and tools to help monitor and manage your symptoms at home. They can send you a pulse oximeter. This is a device that measures the percentage of oxygen in your blood. They will also tell you how to use it. They may also ask you further questions to determine if you are a candidate for medical treatments for COVID at home.
       
  • Seek medical help if your symptoms get worse by calling 811 or 911.
     
  • If you work in a high-risk health care setting (hospitals, long-term care and retirement home congregate living settings) you must notify your employer.

I tested positive with a rapid test – what next? 

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

  • Self-isolate right away.
    To prevent further spread of COVID-19, it’s important for you to self-isolate right away. For more details, view Coronavirus (COVID-19): symptoms and testing - Government of Nova Scotia, Canada
     
  • Ask your household contacts to self-isolate right away. 
    All household contacts (people who you live with) need to follow directions outlined here: www.nshealth.ca/household-close-contact 
     
  • Reach out to close contacts.
    Due to the significant surge in COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia, Public Health asks that you notify any social contacts. This includes workplaces, friends, family and anyone with whom you attended a social gathering, event, or extracurricular activities and had close contact during your infectious period.  Please tell them to visit https://www.nshealth.ca/information-covid-19-close-contacts for detailed directions on self-isolation and testing based on vaccination status.
    • Understanding what it means to notify your close contacts (.pdf)
       
    • Note:  ​Public Health will continue to be responsible for notifying close contacts in the following settings:​
      • Long-term care facilities
      • Corrections facilities
      • Shelters
      • First Nations communities
      • Other congregate (group living) settings
         
  • Complete the Report and Support screening form at https://c19hc.nshealth.ca/self-report

    The form will:

    • report your positive rapid antigen test result to Public Health
    • identify people who may need additional support from Public Health
    • 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

      The information will be shared with Public Health, the Infectious Diseases COVID-19 care team, and the COVID-19 Community Virtual Care Team 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.  
     
  • If you are someone who works in a high-risk health care setting (hospitals, long-term care and retirement home congregate living settings) you must notify your employer.

I work in a high-risk setting

Changes to self-isolation requirements for close contacts (effective Jan. 7, 2022) do not apply to people who work in a high-risk settings, including hospitals, home care, long-term care and corrections facilities. Please follow the direction of your organization’s Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness department.

How long do I need to self-isolate?

Self-isolation requirements are now determined by a person’s age, household situation and vaccination status.

A fully vaccinated person or a child 11 years old or younger:

  • Must isolate for a minimum of seven days following the onset of symptoms or a positive test (if no symptoms).
  • Can leave isolation the morning of the 8th day if they no longer have symptoms, or symptoms are improving and there has been no fever for at least 24 hours.

A person who is not fully vaccinated, or a person who is immunocompromised and has not received a third vaccine dose:

  • Must isolate for at least 10 days following the onset of symptoms or a positive test (if no symptoms).
  • Can leave isolation the morning of the 11th day if they no longer have symptoms, or symptoms are improving and there has been no fever for at least 24 hours.

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: 
    • If fully vaccinated or 11 years old or younger: 7 full days after the start of symptoms (or 7 full days from test date if no symptoms) AND feeling better.
    • If not fully vaccinated or immunocompromised (without third dose): 10 full days after the start of symptoms (or 10 full days from test date if no symptoms) AND feeling better. 

When am I considered recovered?

Due to the significant surge in cases, Public Health no longer has capacity to provide each person who tested positive for COVID-19 with a recovery letter. Individuals are asked to self-assess using the criteria below and stop isolating when they meet the recovery criteria.

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

Fully vaccinated or 11 years old or younger:

  • 7 full days after symptoms have started AND you are feeling better (no fever and symptoms improving).
  • Or 7 full days after your positive test was collected, if you had no symptoms.

Not fully vaccinated or immunocompromised (without third dose):

  • 10 full days after symptoms have started AND you are feeling better (no fever and symptoms improving).
  • Or 10 full days after your positive test was collected, if you had no symptoms.

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.

Should I get tested after I’m recovered?

For the immediate three months (90 days) after you are considered recovered, COVID-19 testing is typically not recommended. If you develop symptoms in these 3 months, you must self-isolate until symptoms have improved (with no fever for at least 24 hours).

What supports are available for people with COVID-19?

I have symptoms but am not a known close contact

If you have symptoms but do not have any known exposure (close contact) to someone who tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Isolate immediately
  • Test immediately:
    • 1 PCR test (if eligible)
    • OR 2 rapid tests 48 hours apart

You can stop isolating after 1 negative PCR or 2 negative rapid tests.

While you have symptoms, avoid visiting settings such as hospitals or long-term care settings where people are more vulnerable.

If you test positive, you become a positive case and need to follow instructions for those who have tested positive, found above.

If there are others in your household, please direct them to:
Someone in my household tested positive: What do I do?
www.nshealth.ca/household-close-contact