1. Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  2. Symptoms, testing and how to self-isolate

Coronavirus (COVID-19): symptoms, testing and how to self-isolate

Symptoms, who can be tested and how to self-isolate.

Symptoms

Watch for symptoms. Symptoms can vary from person to person and in different age groups. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19.

Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • cough (new or worsening)
  • fever (chills, sweats)
  • headache
  • runny nose or nasal congestion
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, can lead to death. Current information suggests most people don't experience severe illness or need to be hospitalized.

What to do if you experience symptoms

You need to self-isolate and complete a COVID-19 Self-assessment if in the past 48 hours you've had or you're currently experiencing:

  • cough (new or worsening)
or
  • 2 or more of the following symptoms:
    • fever (chills, sweats)
    • headache
    • runny nose or nasal congestion
    • sore throat
    • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or are experiencing sudden or worsening shortness of breath or difficulty breathing and need emergency medical care, call 911 (ambulance fees are waived if you need to be transported to the hospital) or go directly to the nearest emergency department.

How to get tested

Nova Scotia Health Authority provides testing throughout the province – check COVID-19 testing requirements for when you need to get tested for COVID-19 and how to get tested.

Book a COVID-19 test

You can complete a COVID-19 Self-assessment to find out if you need a COVID-19 test or to book a COVID-19 test (your reason for needing a COVID-19 test determines if you can book a test). Or you can call 811 if you’re unable to book a test online (or to speak with a nurse).

How to self-isolate

If you travelled from another Canadian province or territory (outside Nova Scotia), your self-isolation requirements are based on your age and vaccination status.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19), your self-isolation requirements are based on your personal situation.

For most people, self-isolating means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. You need to stay in the same location while you’re self-isolating (you can’t change locations). You can leave self-isolation to get tested.

Self-isolating guidelines

To self-isolate, you need to follow these guidelines:

  • stay home – don't go to work, school or other public places (you can use your deck, balcony or yard, but you need to avoid contact with other people)
  • avoid contact with people you live with
  • use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if you can
  • if you need to share a space (like a bedroom or bathroom), disinfect surfaces that were touched
  • avoid elevators or stairwells if you live in an apartment building, condo or hotel (stay inside your unit)
  • wear a mask in common areas if you’re self-isolating in an apartment building, condo or hotel and need to leave the property for outdoor exercise, necessary healthcare or getting tested for COVID-19
  • only leave your property, apartment building, condo or hotel for outdoor exercise if you don’t have symptoms and are self-isolating because you travelled from a Canadian province or territory (outside Nova Scotia) and are not fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia
  • only leave your property, apartment building, condo or hotel (if necessary) 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 metres (6 feet) from others and can’t visit other buildings, go to outdoor fitness classes or personal training sessions
  • take and record your temperature daily
  • have groceries and other supplies delivered
  • avoid anyone with chronic conditions or a compromised immune system and older adults
  • don't have visitors to your home or where you’re self-isolating
  • avoid taking public transportation (like a taxi, bus or shuttle) if possible; if you do need to take public transportation, wear a mask and keep a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others, as much as you can
  • don’t take public transportation if you have COVID-19 symptoms
  • book a COVID-19 test if you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms; you can call 811 if you’re unable to book a test online (or to speak with a nurse)
  • book a COVID-19 test if you travelled from another Canadian province or territory (outside Nova Scotia) and are not fully vaccinated or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms (you need to get tested on day 1 or 2 of your self-isolation and if you’re still in Nova Scotia you need to get tested again on day 6 or 7); you need to receive 2 negative tests results in order to leave self-isolation after 7 days
  • follow hand washing guidelines, cough and sneeze guidelines and cleaning and disinfecting guidelines

Self-isolating when you’re a close contact

If you’re a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you need to follow self-isolating requirements for close contacts.

Protocols and self-isolation requirements

You need to follow the self-isolation requirements in the protocol you’re following. This includes:

Federal support for self-isolating

The Government of Canada also has additional resources about how to self isolate and how to care for someone with COVID-19.