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

Last Updated: November 9, 2020

NEW Self-isolation periods have changed. 
Self-isolation periods NOW range from 10,14, to 20 days or more (rare). 
You must self-isolate while you are waiting for COVID-19 test results. 

  • If you test positive for COVID-19 with mild to moderate illness (the majority), the self- isolation period is now 10 days from symptom onset. Before you stop self-isolation, your symptoms must also have improved for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications) before returning to work or school. 
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 with no symptoms, the self-isolation period is now 10-days from your testing day as long as you stay symptom free.
  • If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days from your last contact with that person. Even if you test negative for COVID-19, the self-isolation period is 14 days as this is the incubation period for the COVID-19 virus.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 and experience severe illness, that requires intensive care unit (ICU) admission or have severe immune compromise (receiving chemotherapy for cancer treatment, or taking prednisone, or other immune suppressive medication) the self-isolation period is now 20 days. You may end self-isolation after this period, provided that you have no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours.

Please note that self-isolation requirements for residents of Ottawa may differ from those in other health units. See examples of exceptions under the Self-isolation instructions below.

On this page:

Who is a high risk contact, household or close contact?

High risk contacts can be a household and /or a close contact as defined below:  

  • A household contact is anyone who lives with the person being tested like parents, siblings, roommates or someone who provided care to the person in the home (such as bathing, toileting, dressing, feeding). This includes other persons who may have similar unprotected contact with you (such as partners living in other households or people who visit with you indoors for prolonged periods without wearing masks or maintaining physical distancing).  
  • A close contact, also known as a high-risk contact, is someone exposed to a person who tested positive for the virus. Exposures can occur in your home, other indoor places where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, and even outdoors, if people are close together for longer periods of time.  

OPH contacts all people who test positive for COVID-19 and identifies close contacts through a detailed review of factors such as the individual’s symptoms, where they have been, and with whom  they have interacted. The following are examples of people who may be considered higher risk or close contacts:  

  • A person who came within 2 metres (6 feet), for a significant period of time, of a person who has tested positive; the longer they were within 2 metres (6 feet), the higher the risk.
  • A person who had close physical contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (e.g. shaking hands, hugging or kissing)
  • A person who may have been coughed or sneezed on by a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • A person who may have shared a cigarette, a vape, a drink or food with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

*Interactions where people briefly come within 2 metres (6 feet) of each other, such as walking by someone on the sidewalk, are generally not considered close contacts.

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Exposed to COVID-19, what now?

If you are a household contact or have been identified as a high-risk contact (such as through school or work) with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should: 

  • Stay home and self-isolate for 14 days after your last contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19. The self-isolation period is 14 days as this is the incubation period for the COVID-19 virus. After 14 days, you can stop isolating if you have not developed any symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Monitor daily for symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop symptoms, immediate testing is recommended.
  • If you do not develop symptoms, testing is still recommended. However, testing is recommended no earlier than 5 days after your last contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Find out how to get tested. Visit the OPH testing web page.
  • If you do not get tested, you must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days after your last contact with that person. 

If you do get tested, you must self-isolate while you wait for your results. Even if your test result is negative you must continue to self-isolate for the full 14 days as this is the incubation period for the COVID-19 virus.

The self-isolation instructions and criteria to discontinue self-isolation vary for each person's situation. Click on the title below that best describes your situation. 

Contacts

COVID Alert exposure notification

If you have the COVID Alert app on your cell phone you will get notified if you have been a close contact (within 2 metres /6 feet, for more than 15 minutes) of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. You must self-isolate from the day you received notification from the app. Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and go for testing. The length of your self-isolation period will vary depending upon your situation below:

  • If you test positive, you must self-isolate 10 days (Ontario Guidance) from the date of your test.
  • If you test negative, you may discontinue self-isolation and should continue to self-monitor for the full 14-day period from when you received the notification.
    • If you subsequently develop symptoms, you should seek re-testing.
    • If Ottawa Public Health identifies you as a close contact through traditional case and contact tracing, you must follow the advice from Ottawa Public Health.
  • If you choose not to be tested, you must self-isolate for the full 14 days from the day you received notification from the app.

The app will direct users to a website with information on steps they can take to keep themselves and others safe.

Please note: OPH only receives positive test results and does not receive any notifications of exposure from the COVID Alert app.

Individuals who have been identified as a high-risk contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19

Ottawa Public Health encourages any person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to notify any household or close contacts they had starting two days (48 hours) before they developed symptoms to the time they started self-isolation.

OPH will notify you by letter or automated call if you are identified as a high-risk contact of a person who tests positive for COVID-19 in a school or daycare.

If you have been identified as a high risk or household contact you must self-isolate for 14 days after your the last day of exposure to the person who tested positive for COVID-19.

Follow general instructions for self-isolation listed below on this webpage.

Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms:

Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:

  • Discontinuing self-isolation depends on whether you are still in contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19. Please refer to the following table for your situation:
Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:
Contact historyCriteria

No longer in contact with someone who has COVID-19 and does not have symptoms of COVID-19

(e.g., lives in different household OR lives in same household and can separate by using a separate bedroom and bathroom and can always maintain more than 2 metres distance from the person(s) with COVID-19)

Fourteen (14) days since the last day you had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

AND you have not developed any symptoms of COVID-19 

Ongoing contact with someone who has COVID-19

(e.g., lives in same household and unable to separate because you continue to share the same bedroom and/or bathroom)

Fourteen (14) days from the time the person with COVID-19 ends their self-isolation period

AND you have not developed any symptoms of COVID-19 

* Please note: hospitalized patients and health care workers have different criteria for discontinuing self-isolation. Please refer to the Ottawa Public Health Criteria for discharge from self-isolation and return to work for HCWs for more information.

Continue physical distancing AFTER your self-isolation has ended. OPH recommends that everyone be SocialWise and COVIDWise.

Visit our webpage for more information on how to stay active and be social. Check in with yourself. It’s okay not to be okay. For resources, please visit our Mental Health and COVID-19 webpage.

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Travel

Returning from International travel WITH symptoms of COVID-19

On March 25, 2020 the Government of Canada issued an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that 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. For practical information on how to follow the quarantine act visit Health Canada’s website.

  • This order is implemented by the Canada Border Services Agency at points of entry.
  • The Government of Canada uses its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the order.
  • Failure to comply with this Order is an offense under the Quarantine Act and can result in a fine.
  • Spot checks are conducted by the Government of Canada to verify compliance.
  • All individuals permitted to enter Canada are subject to this Order except for certain people who cross the border regularly to ensure the continued flow of goods and services, and those who provide essential services. Individuals exempt from the Order still need to practice physical distancing and self-monitoring and contact their local public health authority if they feel sick.
  • Currently, travel to Canada is restricted for all foreign nationals coming from any country. These new restrictions prohibit foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are some exemptions to restrictions: temporary foreign workers, some students, and persons delivering urgent medical supplies as long as they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

Returning travellers WITH COVID-19 symptoms:

  • If you have recently returned to Canada and you have symptoms, you must self-isolate immediatelyThis is mandatory. You can only leave self-isolation for urgent medical care.
  • The only people who may enter Canada if they have COVID-19 or any symptoms of COVID-19 are:
    • Canadians
    • persons with status under the Indian Act
    • permanent residents
  • You must go directly to your place of self-isolation without stopping anywhere else. You need to self-isolate for 14 days after your arrival in Canada. Please refer to the Government of Canada website for more information.
  • If you can’t self-isolate in your own home, consider other options within your financial means, such as:
    • Hotel
    • Motel
    • Other paid housing
    • Friends or family, as long as you won’t expose anyone who:
      • Is not part of your travel group
      • Is at risk of more severe outcomes of COVID-19
  • As a last resort, if no other options are available, you may be required to self-isolate for 14 days in a facility designated by the Government of Canada.
  • If needed, immediate medical attention will be provided when you arrive in Canada.
  • Wash your hands and wear a mask before leaving the airport. Keep the mask on while in all public settings, including during your travel to your isolation place.
  • You may not self-isolate in a place where there are vulnerable people including people who have medical conditions, weakened immune systems, or who are 65 years of age or older.
  • You may not self-isolate in group or community living arrangements such as:
    • industrial camps
    • student residences
    • construction trailers
    • residential or long-term care facilities
    • small shared apartments
    • multi-generational or multi-family households
    • living quarters that are shared with individuals who were not in your travel group and from whom you cannot remain physically distanced.
  • Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted. Stay in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air.

Follow general instructions for self-isolation listed below on this webpage.

Monitoring COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Please note that most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.
  • Contact your health care provider if your symptoms worsen or are not resolving.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home or are in distress, (significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptom), go to the nearest Emergency Department or Call 911.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744

Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:

Fourteen (14) days since your return to Canada OR 14 days after your symptoms started, whichever is longer, as long as you have no fever (without fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours. Absence of a cough is not required for those known to have chronic cough or who are having a reactive airway post-infection.

Please note: hospitalized patients and health care workers may have different criteria for discontinuing self-isolation. Please refer to the Ottawa Public Health Criteria for discharge from self-isolation and return to work for HCWs for more information.

Continue physical distancing AFTER your self-isolation has ended. OPH recommends that everyone be SocialWise and COVIDWise.

Visit our webpage for more information on how to stay active and be social. Check in with yourself. It’s okay not to be okay. For resources, please visit our Mental Health and COVID-19 webpage.

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Returning from International travel WITHOUT symptoms of COVID-19

On March 25, 2020 the Government of Canada issued an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that 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. For practical information on how to follow the quarantine act visit Health Canada’s website.

  • This order is fully implemented by the Canada Border Services Agency at points of entry.
  • The Government of Canada uses its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the order.
  • Failure to comply with this Order is an offense under the Quarantine Act and can result in a fine.
  • Spot checks are conducted by the Government of Canada to verify compliance.
  • All individuals permitted to enter Canada are subject to this Order except for certain people who cross the border regularly to ensure the continued flow of goods and services, and those who provide essential services. Individuals exempt from the Order still need to practice physical distancing and self-monitoring and contact their local public health authority if they feel sick.
  • Travel to Canada is also currently being restricted for all foreign nationals coming from any country. These new restrictions prohibit foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for non-essential travel. Exemptions to the prohibition exist for certain groups of foreign nationals, for example, temporary foreign workers, some students, and persons delivering urgent medical supplies as long as they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

Listed below are instructions for returning travellers WITHOUT symptoms:

  • Go directly to the place where you will self-isolate, do not stop anywhere, and stay in your place of isolation for 14 days from the date you arrived in Canada.
  • Do not take public transportation. If you can’t use a private vehicle, take a taxi or ride-share, wear a procedure/surgical mask and sit in the rear passenger side, keep the windows open, weather permitting. You must not make any unnecessary stops on your way home.
  • Ensure you have a suitable place to self-isolate that has everything you need, is not a group living environment, and is not shared with those at risk of more severe disease.
  • Self-monitor daily and get tested if you develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Practice physical distancing of 2 meters (6 feet) at all times.

Follow general instructions for those on self-isolation listed below.

Developing COVID-19 symptoms:

  • You will need to get tested if you develop any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, fever, difficulty breathing). Should you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 during your 14 day isolation quarantine, you must begin isolating for an additional 14 days from the date of your positive test result or onset of symptoms, which ever is longer.
  • Anyone whose test result is positive will be contacted by OPH.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744.

Please Note: A negative test result does not rule out the possibility that you are currently infected with COVID-19 since you may have been in the early stages of the infection at the time of the test.

Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:

Fourteen (14) days since your return to Canada AND you have not developed any symptoms of COVID-19 

* Please note: hospitalized patients and health care workers (HCWs) may have different criteria for discontinuing self-isolation. Please refer to the Ottawa Public Health Criteria for discharge from self-isolation and return to work for HCWs for more information.

Continue physical distancing AFTER your self-isolation has ended. OPH recommends that everyone be SocialWise and COVIDWise.

Visit our webpage for more information on how to stay active and be social. Check in with yourself. It’s okay not to be okay. For resources, please visit our Mental Health and COVID-19 webpage.

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Travel within Canada 
  • People returning to Ontario following travel within Canada do NOT need to self-isolate as long as they have no symptoms of COVID-19 but should continue to self-monitor and be COVIDWise.

  • It is recommended that travellers verify with the province they are travelling to for any self-isolation requirements.

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Have symptoms of COVID-19, what now?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, fever, difficulty breathing), testing is recommended, even if symptoms are mild. You must self-isolate while waiting for test results and self-monitor for new or worsening symptoms.

  • Stay home and self-isolate for 10 days after your symptoms started. After 10 days, you can stop isolating if you no longer have a fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours. You should continue with physical distancing measures. If you are still unwell at 10 days, contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744.
  • Find out how to get tested and what you need to do.
  • If you are not a high risk contact (no exposure), you can stop self-isolating if you test negative for COVID-19, and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours.
  • Please notify any household or close contacts from 2 days (48 hours) before you developed symptoms until when you started self-isolation. All of your household contacts will need to self-isolate until a negative test result comes back. If your test results are positive, please refer your household contacts or close contacts to OPH “Been exposed to COVID-19 now what”?

NOTE: Absence of cough is not required to end self-isolation for those known to have chronic cough or who are experiencing reactive airways post-infection. 

The self-isolation instructions and criteria to discontinue self-isolation vary for each person's situation. Click on the title below that best describes your situation.

Self-isolation Instructions for Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19

If you have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., cough, fever, difficulty breathing), you need to get tested.

You must self-isolate and self-monitor. Do not return to daycare/school/work in-person.

Please notify any household or close contacts from 2 days (48 hours) before you developed symptoms until when you started self-isolation. Household members may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Follow specific instructions for those with symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Avoid isolating in a place where there are vulnerable people, including people who have a medical condition, compromised immune systems, or older adults
  • Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted. Stay in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air. 

Follow general instructions for those on self-isolation listed above.

Monitoring COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Please note that most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911.
  • If you are in distress (significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptom), go to the nearest Emergency Department or Call 9-1-1.
  • Contact your health care provider if your symptoms worsen or are not resolving.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744

Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:

  • Discontinuing self-isolation depends on your test result, known exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and severity of your illness.
  • Please refer to the following table for your situation.
Exposure History
WhoWhen COVID-19 Test PositiveWhen COVID-19 Test Negative
Known exposure to a person with COVID-19

Ten (10) days after symptoms started or 10 days from your last exposure to the close contact, whichever is longer, as long as you have no fever (without fever reducing medication) AND your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours.

Absence of a cough is not required for those known to have chronic cough or who are having a reactive airway post-infection

Fourteen (14) days after your symptoms started or 14 days from your last exposure to the close contact, whichever is longer, AND your symptoms have resolved for at least 24 hours.

If you develop new symptoms or have on-going symptoms, re-testing is recommended.

Note: The incubation period for the virus is 14 days, so if you get tested before day 5, the virus may not be detected.

No known exposure to a person with COVID-19 

Ten (10) days after symptoms started, as long as you have no fever (without fever reducing medication) 
AND your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours.

Absence of a cough is not required for those known to have chronic cough or who are having a reactive airway post-infection

24 hours after symptoms resolve

* Please note: hospitalized patients and health care workers may have different criteria for discontinuing self-isolation. Please refer to the Ottawa Public Health Criteria for discharge from self-isolation and return to work for HCWs for more information.

Continue physical distancing AFTER your self-isolation has ended. OPH recommends that everyone be SocialWise and COVIDWise.

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Children who attend School/ Child Care

Children who attend a school/childcare and develop a symptom, even if mild, such as a runny nose or sore throat, should stay home for at least 24 hours from when the symptom started and household contacts must also isolate at home while monitoring their child’s symptom. If the symptom is improving and the child does not have a fever during the first 24 hours, without fever-reducing medication, the child may return to school/childcare when they feel well enough to do so. If symptoms include vomiting or diarrhea, then the child has to have had no diarrhea or vomiting for 48 hours before returning to school/childcare. A negative COVID-19 test is not required to return. Household contacts who are symptom-free can also end their self-isolation.

If the symptom persists or worsens or if your child develops an additional symptom(s), your child should either i) go to a COVID-19 assessment centre or care clinic to get tested as soon as possible or ii) contact your child’s health care provider for further advice, assessment, or other treatment. Your child may return to school/childcare when either:

  • A negative test result is received AND 24 hours have passed after symptoms have resolved. (If symptoms include vomiting or diarrhea, the child has to have had no diarrhea or vomiting for 48 hours before returning to school/childcare. Household contacts who are symptom-free can end their self-isolation when the negative result is received.
  • A physician or nurse practitioner concludes the symptoms are not from COVID-19 and provides an alternative diagnosis AND 24 hours have passed after symptoms have resolved. If symptoms include vomiting or diarrhea, the child has to have had no diarrhea or vomiting for 48 hours before returning to school/childcare. Household contacts who are symptom-free can end their self-isolation when the alternative diagnosis by a physician or nurse practitioner is received.

Parents/guardians are encouraged to complete a daily screening tool prior to their child(ren) attend school/childcare. Please refer to OPH’s webpage on Supporting schools during COVID-19.

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Have COVID-19, what now?

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must:

  • Stay home and self-isolate for 10 days after your symptoms started. After 10 days, you can stop isolating if you no longer have a fever (without using fever reducing medication) and your symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours, but you should continue with physical distancing measures. If you are still unwell at 10 days, contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744.
  • If you were hospitalized in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with severe COVID-19 illness, or have a severe immune compromise, you will have to self-isolate for 20 days.
  • Examples of severe immune compromise include cancer chemotherapy, untreated HIV infection, taking prednisone for an extended period of time and taking other immune suppressive medications. 

NOTE: absence of cough is not required to end isolation for those known to have chronic cough or who are experiencing reactive airways post-infection. 

Individuals with mild or moderate illness

Ottawa Public Health will be in contact with you to assess how you are feeling, get a list of your close contacts and tell you how long you will need to self-isolate. If you tested positive, OPH will contact you during your self-isolation period to monitor your health and offer support. It is very important that you provide a phone number and time that you can be reached each day.

If are in distress (e.g. significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to an assessment center or a COVID-19 care clinic. Go to the nearest emergency department or call 9-1-1.

Monitoring COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Please note that most people with mild symptoms will recover on their own at home.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911.
  • If you are in distress (significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptom), go to the nearest Emergency Department or Call 9-1-1.
  • Contact your health care provider if your symptoms worsen or are not resolving.

If you have any questions, please contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744.

Criteria to discontinue self-isolation:

Discontinuing self-isolation depends on if you know if you have been exposed to COVID-19 and on your COVID-19 test result. Please refer to the following table for your situation.

Exposure history
WhoWhen COVID-19 Test Positive
Known exposure to a person with COVID-19 

Ten (10) days after symptoms started as long as you have no fever (without fever-reducing medication) and your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours. Absence of a cough is not required for those known to have chronic cough or who are having a reactive airway post-infection

No known exposure to a person with COVID-19

Ten (10) days after symptoms started as long as you have no fever and your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours. Absence of a cough is not required for those known to have chronic cough or who are having a reactive airway post-infection

* Please note: hospitalized patients and health care workers have different criteria for discontinuing self-isolation. Please refer to the Ottawa Public Health Criteria for discharge from self-isolation and return to work for HCWs for more information.

Continue physical distancing AFTER your self-isolation has ended. OPH recommends that everyone be SocialWise and COVIDWise.

Visit our webpage for more information on how to stay active and be social. Check in with yourself. It’s okay not to be okay. For resources, please visit our Mental Health and COVID-19 webpage.

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Individuals with severe COVID-19 illness or severe immune compromise

If you are suffering from severe COVID-19 illness, or severe immune compromise the isolation period is now 20 days, provided that you have no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours.

  • Severe illness is defined as requiring Intensive Care Unit (ICU) level of care for COVID-19 illness or severe immune compromise.
  • Examples of severe immune compromise include cancer chemotherapy, untreated HIV infection, taking prednisone for an extended period of time and taking other immune suppressive medications.

Individuals with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is strongly urging all those with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions to stay at home.

In addition to increasing age, people who have serious underlying medical conditions (such as: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease, cancer, are immunocompromised) or who are severely obese are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Every individual needs to consider their personal risk factors when making decisions about going out and remember to always be COVIDWise.

Visit our webpage for more information on how to, stay active and be social. Check in with yourself. It’s okay not to be okay. For resources, please visit our Mental Health and COVID-19 webpage.

If you develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19 visit our webpage for testing facilities, times and locations.

Developing COVID-19 symptoms:

  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, use the Government of Ontario COVID-19 self-assessment tool to find out how to get further care.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, go to your nearest emergency department and/or call 911

Discontinuing self-isolation:

If you are suffering from severe COVID-19 illness, or severe immunocompromise the isolation period is now 20 days, provided that you have no fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications) and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours.

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What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is a behavior that helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Self-isolation includes staying at home, avoiding contact with other people and only leaving home for critical reasons, like a medical emergency. The purpose of self-isolation is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others in your home, schools, and our community at large.

You must self-isolate if you have: 

  • returned from travel outside Canada, in which case you will have to follow the rules set out by the emergency orders under the Quarantine Act, 
  • tested positive for COVID-19,
  • been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19,
  • are a household contact of a symptomatic person waiting for COVID-19 test results

*Please note that self-isolation requirements for residents of Ottawa may differ from those in other health units.

The time you must start and stop your self-isolation depends on your individual situation. For more information that fits your situation, click on the scenario below:

Self-isolation instructions

  • You MUST self-isolate at home and protect other people in your home from exposure. 
  • Do not leave your place of isolation unless it is to get medical care. Wear a cloth or medical mask when you leave to see a health care provider. 
  • Do not leave your property to go for walk. Stay in private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air.
  • Do not use public transportation (such as buses and trains). If you are seeking medical attention and do not have a private vehicle, please use a taxi or rideshare, wear a mask, sit in the rear seat on the opposite side of the driver, and open the windows (weather permitting).
  • Do not go to school or work in-person (attend virtually if you can). 
  • Stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible.
  • Do not have visitors. Limit contact with others in place of isolation, including children.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water; to dry hands use a paper towel or a cloth that no one shares.
  • Try to get groceries, medication, or other essential items online, over the phone, from friends, family, neighbours or anyone else who is not in self-isolation. Have items left at the door to minimize contact. 
    • *If this is not possible, call 211 for information on the full range of community, social, government and health service programs available in Ottawa, and how to access them.
  • If a person must be in contact with others, wear cloth mask and practice physical distancing to keep at least two metres (6 feet) between yourself and other person. 
  • “How to Isolate at Home When You May Have COVID-19” – instructions are available in over 20 languages online, visit: canada.ca/en/public-health/services/ publications/diseases-conditions/covid-19-how-to-isolate-at-home.html 

Know the Symptoms 

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, please continue to self-isolate, follow the self-isolation instructions, and do not leave your place of self-isolation unless it is to go for testing or to seek medical care.

Self-Monitor for Symptoms

Self-monitoring is when you check your health for symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If these symptoms develop, visit our Assessment Centres and Care Clinics Web page for information on where and when to get tested.

You should self-monitor if:

  • You have no symptoms, AND
  • You may have been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days, OR
  • You are in close contact with older adults or people who are medically vulnerable, OR
  • You have been asked to do so by Ottawa Public Health

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

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End self-isolation, what now?

Continue physical distancing AFTER your self-isolation has ended, OPH recommends that everyone be SocialWise and COVIDWise.

  • W – Wear a mask or face covering where required, or when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet).
  • I – Isolate yourself from others when you are sick (and get tested if you have COVID-like symptoms).
  • S – Stay at least two metres (six feet) apart from those outside your household.
  • E – Exercise proper hand hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use sanitizer especially before touching your face.
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.
  • Limit group gatherings
  • Connect via phone, video chat, or social media instead of in-person.
  • Avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives unless the visit is essential.
  • Talk to your employer about working from home, if possible.
  • Keep windows down for essential community trips via taxi or rideshares.

Visit our webpage for more information on how to, stay active and be social. Check in with yourself. It’s okay not to be okay. For resources, please visit our Mental Health and COVID-19 webpage.

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COVID-19 Class Order for Self-Isolation – What Does it Mean for Me? 

The provincial Health Protection & Promotion Act allows the Medical Officer of Health to issue a "class order." An order was issued on September 22, 2020, and is in effect until the Medical Officer of Health declares it is no longer needed.

The "class order" directs people to stay home and self-isolate until they are not contagious (able to transmit the infection to others). The purpose is to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and protect the health of everyone in Ottawa. The goal of this order is to provide authority to gather information in situations that may lead to COVID-19 transmission and, in rare occasions, to hold individuals responsible who are unreasonably ignoring Public Health guidance and knowingly putting others at risk.  A person who knowingly ignores this class order to self-isolate can be charged and fined up to $5,000 per day and Police may be called upon to assist.  

The class order is directed to:

  • People with symptoms of COVID-19.
  • People who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • People in recent close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. This includes caregivers and household members.

The class order does not apply to:

  • People who do not meet the criteria above but are still getting tested.
Can people be exempted from the class order?  
Yes, some essential health care workers, who are high risk contacts with no symptoms may be permitted to work. However, they must self-isolate at home when they are not working or travelling to/from work. Exceptions may also be made for people leaving domestic violence. Ottawa Public Health will review exceptions for each situation.  People can still go for medical appointments when they are in self-isolation. Contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 for instructions before going to a medical clinic or hospital.  
Can someone legally challenge the class order?  
Yes, the person listed in the class order can challenge it by appealing to the Health Services Appeal and Review Board: http://www.hsarb.on.ca/scripts/english/contact.asp.

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Resources

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Household cleaning and disinfection:

  • At least once a day, clean and disinfect (using regular household cleaners) “high-touch” surfaces that you touch often, like counters, sink tap handles, toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes.
  • Do not share personal items with others, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.
  • Put the lid of the toilet down before flushing.
  • Clean more often if surfaces become visibly soiled.
  • 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 enough cleaning.

Waste management:

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

Supplies to have at home when self-isolating:

  • Masks (medical or cloth), only if you have symptoms and the rest of the people at home do not have symptoms
  • Eye protection (face shield or goggles) for use by caregiver
  • Disposable gloves (do not re-use) for use by caregiver
  • Disposable paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Waste container with plastic liner
  • Thermometer
  • Over the counter medication to reduce fever (e.g., acetaminophen)
  • Running water
  • Hand soap
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
  • Dish soap
  • Regular laundry soap
  • Regular household cleaning products
  • Hard-surface disinfectant, or if not available, make a solution of concentrated (5%) liquid bleach and water by mixing 10 mL of bleach with 1 litre of water (2 tsp of bleach with 4 cups of water).

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