Self-Isolation Instructions for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last revised on March 26, 2020.

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is when you have been instructed to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. If you are ill, you should be separated from others in your household to the greatest extent possible.

Learn more about who must self-isolate and how

What is self-monitoring?

This is when you monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If these symptoms develop, consult the latest guidance on our main COVID-19 page

Learn more about how to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

Self-isolation instructions

The self-isolation instructions vary for each person's situation. Which one of the following statements best describes your situation?

1. Ottawa Public Health or a health care provider has instructed me to self-isolate because I am currently being tested for COVID-19.

Instructions: 
  • YOU MUST self-isolate until cleared by Ottawa Public Health. 
  • Stay home:
    • Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.
    • Do not go to work, school or other public places.
    • Your health care provider or Ottawa Public Health will tell you when  you no longer need to self-isolate.
  • Limit the number of visitors in your home:
    • Only have visitors who you must see and keep visits short.
    • Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, lung problems,  weakened immune system)
  • Avoid contact with others:
    • Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one.
    • Make sure that any shared rooms have good airflow (e.g., open windows).
  • Keep distance:
    • If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two metres from others and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
    • If you cannot wear a mask, people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes:
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
    • Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal easier and safer.
    • Wash your hands after emptying the wastebasket .
  • Wash your hands:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
    • Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth:
    • Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider.
    • Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people.

Household cleaning and disinfection:

  • Clean all “high-touch” areas such as counters, toilets, sink tap handles, tabletops, doorknobs, TV remotes, phones, and bedside tables daily using regular household cleaners.
  • Clean more often if surfaces become visibly soiled.
  • Clean any surfaces than may have blood, body fluids and/or secretions on them.Wear disposable gloves when cleaning surfaces.
  • Use a diluted bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach to 4 cups of water) or household disinfectant.
  • Dishes and eating utensils should be cleaned with dish soap and hot water after each use.
  • Using a dishwasher with a drying cycle provides a sufficient level of cleaning.

Laundry:

  • Clothing and bedclothes can be cleaned using regular laundry soap and water and do not require separation from other household laundry.
  • If clothing or bedding have blood, body fluids and/or secretions, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items, remove gloves and wash hands immediately afterwards.

Waste management:

  • All waste generated can be bagged in a regular plastic bag and disposed of in regular household waste.

Resources:

2. I have recently travelled anywhere outside of Canada (including the United States of America)

The Federal Quarantine Act requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted under the Quarantine Order, issued on March 25, 2020.

Instructions: 

  • YOU MUST self-isolate and self-monitor for 14 days. If symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop, consult the latest guidance on our main COVID-19 page.
  • If you need to return home from the airport via taxi or ride-share, be sure to keep the windows down.
  • If you were out of country when the latest travel guidelines went into effect and need to get supplies for your household, please ask someone who is not in self-isolation to get your supplies for you or inquire about home-delivery options. 
  • At the end of your 14-day self-isolation, please continue to practice physical (social) distancing. 

  • Stay home:
    • Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.
    • Do not go to work, school or other public places.
  • Limit the number of visitors in your home:
    • Only have visitors who you must see and keep visits short.
    • Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, lung problems, weakened immune system)
  • Avoid contact with others:
    • Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one.
    • Make sure that any shared rooms have good airflow (e.g., open windows).
  • Keep your distance:
    • If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two metres from others and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
    • If you cannot wear a mask, people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes:
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
    • Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal easier and safer.
    • Wash your hands after emptying the wastebasket.
  • Wash your hands:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
    • Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth only if you are symptomatic:
    • Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider.
    • Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people.

Household cleaning and disinfection

  • Clean all “high-touch” areas such as counters, toilets, sink tap handles, tabletops, doorknobs, TV remotes, phones, and bedside tables daily using regular household cleaners.

  • Clean more often if surfaces become visibly soiled.

  • Clean any surfaces than may have blood, body fluids and/or secretions on them.

  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning surfaces.

  • Use a diluted bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach to 4 cups of water) or household disinfectant.

  • Dishes and eating utensils should be cleaned with dish soap and hot water after each use.

  • Using a dishwasher with a drying cycle also provides a sufficient level of cleaning.

Laundry

  • Clothing and bedclothes can be cleaned using regular laundry soap and water and do not require separation from other household laundry.

  • If clothing or bedding have blood, body fluids and/or secretions, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items, remove gloves and wash hands immediately afterwards.

Waste management

  • All waste generated can be bagged in a regular plastic bag and disposed of in regular household waste.

Resources:

3. Ottawa Public Health or a health care provider has instructed me to self-isolate because I have been in close contact with a person who is being tested for COVID-19 or has COVID-19.

Instructions: 
  • YOU MUST self-isolate for 14 days from last known exposure to COVID-19. If symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop, consult the latest guidance on our main COVID-19 page.
  • Stay home:
    • Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.
    • Do not go to work, school or other public places.
    • Your health care provider or Ottawa Public Health will tell you when you no longer need to self-isolate.
  • Limit the number of visitors in your home:
    • Only have visitors who you must see and keep visits short.
    • Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, lung problems, weakened immune system)
  • Avoid contact with others:
    • Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one.
    • Make sure that any shared rooms have good airflow (e.g., open windows).
  • Keep your distance:
    • If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two meters from others and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
    • If you cannot wear a mask, people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes:
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
    • Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal easier and safer.
    • Wash your hands after emptying the wastebasket.
  • Wash your hands:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
    • Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth if you are symptomatic:
    • Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider.
    • Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people.

Household cleaning and disinfection:

  • Clean all “high-touch” areas such as counters, toilets, sink tap handles, tabletops, doorknobs, TV remotes, phones, and bedside tables daily using regular household cleaners.

  • Clean more often if surfaces become visibly soiled.

  • Clean any surfaces than may have blood, body fluids and/or secretions on them.

  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning surfaces.

  • Use a diluted bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach to 4 cups of water) or household disinfectant.

  • Dishes and eating utensils should be cleaned with dish soap and hot water after each use.

  • Use of a dishwasher with a drying cycle also provides a sufficient level of cleaning.

Laundry:

  • Clothing and bedclothes can be cleaned using regular laundry soap and water and do not require separation from other household laundry.

  • If clothing or bedding have blood, body fluids and/or secretions, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items, remove gloves and wash hands immediately afterwards.

Waste management:

  • All waste generated can be bagged in a regular plastic bag and disposed of in regular household waste.

Resources:

4. I have not been instructed to self-isolate but would like to as a precaution.

Instructions: 

Continue with regular good hygiene practices. Practice physical (social) distancing. 

To reduce the spread of germs including the flu and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) we recommend that you:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands with soap
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hand
  • If possible, stay home if you are sick
  • Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick 

Learn more on how to stop the spread of germs

Resources:

5. I have respiratory symptoms, such as fever or cough.

Instructions: 

  • YOU MUST self-isolate for 14 days, or 24 hours after your symptoms have fully resolved, whichever is longer.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, please visit your nearest emergency department.
  • Stay home:
    • Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.
    • Do not go to work, school or other public places.
    • Your health care provider or Ottawa Public Health will tell you when you no longer need to self-isolate.
  • Limit the number of visitors in your home:
    • Only have visitors who you must see and keep visits short.
    • Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, lung problems, weakened immune system)
  • Avoid contact with others:
    • Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one.
    • Make sure that any shared rooms have good airflow (e.g., open windows).
  • Keep your distance:
    • If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two meters from others and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
    • If you cannot wear a mask, people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes:
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
    • Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal easier and safer.
    • Wash your hands after emptying the wastebasket .
  • Wash your hands:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
    • Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth if you are symptomatic:
    • Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider.
    • Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people.

Household cleaning and disinfection:

  • Clean all “high-touch” areas such as counters, toilets, sink tap handles, tabletops, doorknobs, TV remotes, phones, and bedside tables daily using regular household cleaners.
  • Clean more often if surfaces become visibly soiled.
  • Clean any surfaces than may have blood, body fluids and/or secretions on them.
  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning surfaces.
  • Use a diluted bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach to 4 cups of water) or household disinfectant.
  • Dishes and eating utensils should be cleaned with dish soap and hot water after each use.
  • Use of a dishwasher with a drying cycle also provides a sufficient level of cleaning.

Laundry:

  • Clothing and bedclothes can be cleaned using regular laundry soap and water and do not require separation from other household laundry.
  • If clothing or bedding have blood, body fluids and/or secretions, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items, remove gloves and wash hands immediately afterwards.

Waste management:

  • All waste generated can be bagged in a regular plastic bag and disposed of in regular household waste.

Resources:

How to Self-Isolate - Public Health Ontario website 

Frequently asked questions

What does quarantine mean?

To prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases that are of significant harm to public health, the Public Health Agency of Canada collaborates with border partners such as the Canada Border Services Agency to administer the Quarantine Act at all international points of entry into Canada.

When a traveller shows signs and symptoms of a communicable disease upon arrival in Canada, a Border Services Officer, is the first point of contact and he or she will conduct a preliminary screening of the traveler.

If deemed necessary, a Public Health Agency of Canada Quarantine Officer will implement various control measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable disease.

What is home isolation?

Home isolation is when you are required to remain at home, by Ottawa Public Health, because you have a respiratory infection, including novel coronavirus, that can be spread to other people. While on home isolation, do not go to work, school or other public places. Your public health unit will tell you when it is safe to leave your home.

Is it against the law to put somebody on home isolation?

Ottawa Public Health has the authority to put someone on home isolation according to the Health Protection and Promotion Act of Ontario (section 22) when it is necessary to protect the public from an infectious disease. Ottawa Public Health expects that you will respect and adhere to the principles of home isolation. If you have any questions or wish to speak to a public health nurse, please do not hesitate to contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744.

In order to decrease transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health is now recommending that all residents of Ottawa practice physical distancing. The above Youtube video explains what is physical distancing. 

Read video script

With more cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ottawa, we are asking that all people in Ottawa practice physical (social) distancing 

What is physical (social) distancing?

  • Physical (social) distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with.
  • Through physical (social) distancing, we can flatten the curve. That means, decrease the number of people ill all at once, so that the healthcare system can keep up and continue to provide life-saving care.

How can you  practice physical (social)  distancing?

Here are a few examples:

  • Limit non-essential trips out of the home
  • work to maintain a distance of about 2 meters from other people, as much as possible. 
  • Work from home if you can
  • Avoid visits to long-term care homes, or retirement homes unless the visit is absolutely essential
  • Avoid non-essential trips in the community
  • Limit or cancel group gatherings, including play-dates for children
  • Older adults should avoid gathering in groups of 5 or more at this time

Why you need to maintain a distance of about 2 meters from others:

The human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets that come out when you cough or sneeze
  • close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

Our collective efforts are needed as a community. The actions you take will affect not only you, but your loved ones, and our most vulnerable. Stay home if you are able to.

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