What to do if you have been in contact with a person with COVID-19
If you have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19, including up to two days before the person started to have symptoms or went for a COVID-19 test, you may be a close contact and may need to self-isolate.
- I may have been exposed to COVID-19. What can I expect now?
The timing of contact tracing may vary. If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID, you may be notified by email, text or phone. If you have not been notified by Public Health by phone or by letter that you or your child need to self-isolate, you/they may continue to attend work/school as long as you/they are not experiencing any symptoms. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home and follow the guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control on when to get a COVID-19 test.
As always, monitor yourself and your child for symptoms of COVID-19. For more information, check the Symptoms and Testing webpage.
Information on COVID-19 protocols for school & district administrators around the Management of Illness and Exposures at School is a valuable resource for any service providers working with school-aged children and youth. This comprehensive document outlines when and how people will be kept informed when there is a risk of COVID exposure, while respecting individual privacy.
- I live with a person who has tested positive. Do I need to self-isolate?
If you live with the case you are considered a household contact. Whether you need to self-isolate depends on if you have had 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
Unimmunized or partially immunized household contacts
A household contact is considered unimmunized or partially immunized if you have not been vaccinated or if you have only received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
- You must self-isolate and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days from the last day you were exposed to someone with COVID-19. You should continue to monitor for symptoms for an additional four days.
Fully Immunized household contacts
A household contact is considered to be fully immunized when more than 7 days have passed since you received your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the time of the first date of contact with the positive COVID-19 case when they were infectious.
- These household members do not need to self-isolate, but they must monitor themselves closely for symptoms for 14 days after the last date of contact
- How do I know if I am a close contact?
You are considered a close contact if:
- You were near a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes when safety measures were not in place or were insufficient. Safety measures may include physical barriers or physical distancing of at least 2 metres.
- If you were wearing a non-medical mask, you would still be considered a close contact. Some interactions that are less than 15 minutes can also be considered close contact.
- A person with COVID-19 sneezes or coughs on you.
- You interacted with a person up to two days before they showed symptoms. Some people who don’t show symptoms may still be contagious.
- You interacted with the person up to two days before they went for a COVID-19 test.
- I am a close contact and do not live with the case. Do I need to self-isolate?
Whether you need to self-isolate depends on if you have been immunized with COVID-19 vaccine.
If you are not vaccinated for COVID-19 OR received your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine less than or equal to 21 days before coming into close contact with a person with COVID-19:
- Self-isolate and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days from the last date of your exposure. If you do not develop any symptoms, you may discontinue self-isolation and return to normal activities.
- Please continue to monitor for symptoms for an additional 4 days.
If you received your first dose of COVID-19 vaccine more than 21 days before coming into contact with a person with COVID-19 OR If you received your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine:
- You are not required to isolate but should still monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
- How do I self-isolate?
Your self-isolation starts from the day you were last in close contact with the person with COVID-19.
- Monitoring for signs of COVID-19.
- Staying at home
- Staying away from others in the home
- Using a separate bathroom if possible
- Getting basics like groceries and medications delivered or brought to you by someone not in self-isolation
- You can still go to scheduled medical appointments. Call you care provider ahead of time and let them know you are a contact to COVID-19. They will let you know if your appointment can be rescheduled.
You can exercise outside as long as you can stay at least two metres away from others.
- Do not go to work, school, or other public areas (such as grocery stores, shopping malls, fitness centres, or places of worship)
- Do not have visitors
- Do not share personal items with others
- Do not use public transport
For more information see the BCCDC Self-Isolation and Self-Monitoring page.
- Do I need to get tested for COVID-19?
If you get sick with signs of a cold, the flu, or COVID-like illness (even mild ones):
- Get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.
No matter whether you have signs of illness or not, if you have been told to self-isolate and you test negative for COVID-19, you must do both of these things:
- You must self-isolate for the full 10 days from when last in contact with COVID-19.
- You must monitor for signs of COVID-19 for 14 days from when last in contact with COVID-19.
- Where and how can I get tested?
To find the nearest testing location, go to our testing information page.
You can make an appointment by calling 1-844-901-8442 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., seven days a week.
- Can I get vaccinated if I am a close contact?
COVID-19 vaccines offer the best protection against COVID-19.
If you are self-isolating and have not received a first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, once you’re self-isolation is over, please walk in or book an appointment an immunization clinic near you.
If you do not need to self-isolate, please get your first or second dose as soon as you’re able (second dose can be scheduled 28 days from your first dose).
- When should I seek medical care?
- If your symptoms feel worse than a common cold you can call your health-care provider.
- Call 8-1-1 any time day or night if you have any questions or concerns about your health.
- Call 9-1-1 if you have more severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing or chest pain.
- If you go for medical care, call ahead. Let them know you are self-isolating.
People with weakened immune systems are at increased risk of more severe illness due to COVID-19. This can include older people and people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart, renal or chronic lung disease.
- How do I self-monitor?
Use the COVID-19 Assessment tool every day to check for any symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days from when you were last in close contact with the person with COVID-19.
If you feel well, you may continue to go to work, school and all activities. Avoid being around people who would be at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, such as the elderly and people with weak immune systems due to medication use or illnesses.
If you become ill, isolate away from others and book an appointment to get a COVID-19 test. Continue to isolate until your results are back and symptoms go away. If your test is positive you will receive a call from Public Health.
To learn more about COVID-19, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1. This service is available in multiple languages.