Why should I self-isolate?
Self-isolation is important to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not everyone with COVID-19 will have symptoms and some may only have mild symptoms. Also, when you are exposed to an illness, there is a time between the exposure and when you start to feel sick, known as the incubation period, when you may spread COVID-19.
When should I self-isolate?
If you have COVID-19:
- Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory diseases like the flu and the common cold. If you are feeling unwell, you should stay home and self-isolate to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. You should stay home until all of the following apply to you:
- your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you had nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea)
- you do not have a fever
- you do not develop any additional symptoms
- You should not leave your home except to get tested or to seek medical care. If you must leave home, you should wear a mask and avoid visiting individuals at higher risk for severe illness (for example, seniors) and higher risk settings, such as a long-term care home. If you have severe symptoms like chest pain or difficulty breathing, go to the nearest emergency department.
- When your symptoms are improving and you are no longer staying at home, doing the following can provide extra protection against the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses circulating in the community. You may be contagious for up 10 days or more since your symptoms first appeared. Therefore, for 10 days after your symptoms started:
- wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings
- avoid non-essential activities where you need to take off your mask (for example, dining out)
- avoid non-essential visits to anyone who is immunocompromised or may be at higher risk of illness (for example, seniors)
- avoid non-essential visits to highest risk settings in the community such as hospitals and long-term care homes
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for COVID-19 and work in a high-risk setting (such as a hospital, a long-term care home, or a retirement home), you should speak with your employer and follow your workplace guidance for return to work.
- For the health and safety of staff, workplaces should review their illness policies to be supportive of staff who cannot work due to illness. Staff should only return to work when their symptoms have improved and are fever free for 24 hours.
- More information for people who tested positive can be found here.
If you are a close contact of a positive case and you develop symptoms:
- If you are feeling unwell, you should stay home and self-isolate to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.
- You should get tested if you are at higher risk for severe outcomes at a testing clinic. If you are NOT at higher risk of severe outcomes, you can seek confirmatory testing at a testing clinic if you wish.
- If your testing clinic test is negative, you still should stay home if you are experiencing symptoms. If you continue to experience symptoms, you should test again.
- Guidance for close contacts is available here
If you tested positive with a rapid antigen test, it is recommended to stay home when ill, if you wish, you can choose to get your result confirmed at a testing clinic.
- Whether you confirm your result at a testing clinic or not, it is recommended to stay home and follow the steps outlined for positive cases.
If you have symptoms and are waiting for your COVID-19 test result, and have not been in close contact with a known COVID case:
- Staying home when sick is recommended to lower the chance of spreading COVID-19 and other illness to others.
- Members of your household do not have to self-isolate with you, but it is important that everyone practices public health measures including hand washing, enhanced cleaning of shared surfaces and equipment, limiting the number of close contacts, and staying physically apart.
If you have been outside of PEI, upon arrival in the province:
- PEI is no longer requiring isolation for travellers on entry to PEI, regardless of vaccination status. More information on travel measures can be found here.
- People who have travelled internationally, are responsible to find our if there are any applicable federal quarantine and testing requirements.
Self-isolation means you should:
- not have contact with others (in-person)
- stay on your property/the property of your self-isolation location;
- not leave home/your self-isolation location unless absolutely necessary, such as to seek medical care, COVID-19 testing or because of risk to physical safety (e.g. fire);
- not go to school, work, public areas or use public transportation (e.g., buses);
- arrange contactless drop-off of groceries, food, medication and other supplies at your door; (curbside pick-up, drive-thrus and entering retail stores is not permitted);
- not attend public events, places of worship, restaurants/bars, arenas, and gyms;
- not host or visit people indoors or outdoors;
- seek a completely separate location from the rest of your household to self-isolate.
- If you need assistance in developing an appropriate COVID-19 self-isolation plan, please contact DeptHW@gov.pe.ca
- If you are self-isolating in a multi-unit residence such as an apartment building, condo, or hotel, you should:
- stay on the building's property;
- if you need to use shared corridors, stairwells, or elevators to enter and exit the building, select times that are less busy, perform hand hygiene before leaving, and maintain physical distancing and wear a mask;
- practice physical distancing while outdoors on the building’s property;
- don't use common spaces including laundry,
- make arrangements with a friend or family member to walk your pet
- if staying in a hotel, follow any protocols the hotel may have in place for individuals with a virus.
What else should I consider if I need to self-isolate?
Other areas you should consider if you are self-isolating:
- Who (not in isolation) will support you during your isolation, such as in collecting and dropping off items such as food and medications, walking your dog, or if necessary, provide transportation to testing clinic following the Transporting Travellers to Self-Isolation Location Guidance.
What else can I do to stop the spread of infection in my home?
Proper hygiene and hand-washing can help minimize exposure to COVID-19.
Keep your hands clean
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Dry with disposable paper towels or a reusable towel that is replaced when it becomes wet.
- Remove dirt with a wet wipe and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Cover your cough or sneeze
- Cough or sneeze into the bend of your arm or into a tissue.
- Throw used tissues in the garbage. Wash your hands immediately after or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid contaminating common items and surfaces
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that you touch often, like toilets, bedside tables, doorknobs, phones and television remotes at least once a day.
- Do not share personal items, such as toothbrushes, towels, bed linen, utensils or electronic devices.
- Use regular household disinfectants or diluted bleach (1 part bleach and 9 parts water) to disinfect.
- Place contaminated items that cannot be cleaned in a lined container, secure the contents and dispose with other household waste.
- Put the toilet lid down before flushing.
Care for yourself
Monitor for symptoms. Most cases of COVID-19 are mild, and symptoms can be safely treated at home.
Get some rest, eat a balanced diet and stay in touch with others by phone, social media or Internet.
If your COVID-19 symptoms are worsening, your first point of contact should be your primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner). At their discretion, they will either arrange a telephone appointment or see you in person.
If seeking care outside of the home, inform your initial contact, whether via telephone or in person, that you are in self isolation.
If symptoms become serious and you need urgent medical attention, call 911 or go to the emergency department directly.
More information on caring for COVID-19, including about antiviral treatment, can be found here
Once your self-isolation period is complete, follow general Public Health Guidance.
I need to seek emergency medical care - do I need to notify someone or call ahead?
If you need to seek emergency medical care while you are in self isolation, call 911 and/or go directly the emergency department as needed. Inform your initial contact, whether via telephone or in person, that you are in self isolation.
For questions call the COVID-19 information line at 1-800-958-6400 (toll-free).