COVID-19: Have Symptoms or Been Exposed

Exposed to COVID-19

If you are identified as a close contact and are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated:

  • Get tested immediately, even if you are partially vaccinated, to determine if you might be infected. Find out how to get tested.
  • Stay home and quarantine for 10 days after your last contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Only leave the house to get tested. Book an appointment to get tested.
    • Do not take public transit or use ride sharing when you go for testing because you are possibly infectious.
    • You need to wear a mask that covers your nose, mouth and chin.
    • If someone else is driving, you need to sit in the back seat by yourself on the passenger side with car windows down to increase airflow and lower the driver’s exposure risk.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19
  • If you do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, you should be tested on day 7 of your quarantine period. 
  • Get tested immediately if you develop symptoms of COVID-19, even if you have been tested previously.  An early negative result may become positive later.
  • All household members who are unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated must stay home and only leave for essential reasons until a negative test has been confirmed.
  • If you get tested, you must remain in quarantine while you wait for your results. Even if your test result is negative you must continue to quarantine for the full 10 days.
  • If you do not get tested, you must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days after your last contact with that person.
  • If you have symptoms and decline testing, even if you are fully vaccinated, you must isolate for 10 days starting from when your symptoms began.

If you are identified as a close contact and are fully vaccinated and/or previously tested positive for COVID-19 (within the last 90 days):

An individual is considered fully vaccinated when 14 or more days have passed since their second COVID-19 vaccination. If fewer than 14 days have passed since the second dose, an individual is not considered fully vaccinated.

  • Get tested immediately, even if you are fully vaccinated, to determine if you might be infected. You should be retested on day 7 after your exposure to the positive case.
  • Household members of symptomatic fully vaccinated individuals/previously positive close contacts should isolate until the individual who has been identified as a fully vaccinated/previously positive close contact has a negative test result.
  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated must still quarantine and be tested immediately if they have symptoms of COVID-19. View information about symptoms and testing
  • For the next 10 days you should self-monitor for symptoms, follow public health measures such as wearing a mask outside of your house and self-isolate and get tested if you develop any symptoms.
  • Fully vaccinated contacts who are in certain congregate settings such as retirement homes or long-term care facilities cannot be excluded from quarantine if they are a close contact.
  • If your test is positive you must self-isolate for 10 days.

Flow chart - what to do if you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 (for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals)

Note: fully immunized close contacts need to avoid non-essential visits to settings with vulnerable populations including schools and daycares.

Notified by COVID Alert App of Exposure to COVID-19

If you receive an alert from the COVID Alert app that you have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19:

  • If you are fully vaccinated or had previously had COVID within the last 90 days, you do not need to self-isolate but should still get tested.
    If you are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, you need to self-isolate at home and book an appointment to get tested. If your test result is negative, you are no longer required to self-isolate unless advised by Public Health case and contact management that you are a close contact (in which case you must follow public health advice). Even though you received a negative test, you should still monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 10 days from when you received notification through the app. If you develop symptoms, immediately self-isolate and book an appointment to get re-tested.

  • If your test result is positive, you must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days if you have mild/moderate illness, or 20 days if you have severe illness or are immune compromised. If you have a positive test result, call your family doctor to discuss your individual risk and how to monitor your illness. It is important you call BEFORE you develop significant symptoms.
  • If your test result is positive, you can get a one-time key directly from the eHealthOntario test results website that you enter into the COVID Alert App to notify anyone who may have come within 2 metres of you. You may also call Public Health at 905-974-9848, option 3.
  • Read more on the COVID-19 alert app

Have symptoms of COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, and you were not a close contact of someone with COVID-19, you must:

  • Find out how to get tested
  • Stay home and self-isolate for 10 days after your symptoms started or while awaiting your test results. After 10 days, you can stop isolating if you no longer have a fever and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours. If you have a positive test result, call your family doctor to discuss your individual risk and how to monitor your illness. It is important you call BEFORE you develop significant symptoms.
  • You can stop isolating if you test negative for COVID-19 and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours. School students, staff and visitors can return to school if they test negative for COVID-19 and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours.
  • After you recover, it is still very important to continue with public health measures.  Continue to practice physical distancing and mask wearing.

Have COVID-19

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

  • If you have 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 and your symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours. If you are still unwell at 10 days, contact Telehealth or your health care provider.
  • If you do not have symptoms, stay home and isolate for 10 days from your test date. If symptoms develop, follow the instructions above and isolate for 10 days after your symptoms start 
  • If you were hospitalized in an intensive care unit (ICU) with severe COVID-19 illness, or have a severe immune compromise (e.g., cancer chemotherapy, untreated HIV infection), you will have to self-isolate for 20 days.
  • Instruct all people you live with to isolate for 10 days from the time you started having symptoms. Household members who are fully vaccinated or who have recently had COVID-19 should have a public health assessment to determine if they need to quarantine.
  • Notify close contacts that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and ask them to follow the advice above under Exposed to COVID-19.
  • Hamilton Public Health will reach out to all residents who test positive,  by phone or text.   If you receive a text message, please do not delete it.  It is not a scam.  Below is how the text message will look when you receive it.
  • After you recover, it is still very important to continue with public health measures. Continue to practice physical distancing and mask wearing.

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