What to do if you get a positive COVID-19 test result

What your result means

A positive test result means you have the virus that causes COVID-19 infection in your body. The lab-based PCR test or at-home rapid test you took identified the virus. 

Most people experience mild symptoms of COVID-19 and can be managed at home.

How long should you stay home?

If you test positive for COVID-19, we recommend that you stay at home until:

  • your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications (this includes all medications that decrease symptoms including Tylenol or ibuprofen);
  • it has been at least 48 hours since the last episode of vomiting or diarrhea; and
  • other symptoms feel like they have noticeably improved, and none of your symptoms are getting worse.

You do not have to stay home until all of your symptoms are completely gone. After a viral infection, you may have symptoms that linger, such as a cough. If you have lingering symptoms it does not mean you need to stay home until they completely go away.

When you should you seek medical care

If you or your dependants have or develop any of the following symptoms, phone 911 and seek immediate emergency help:

  • severe difficulty breathing (for example, struggling for each breath or speaking in single words);
  • severe chest pain;
  • feelings of confusion; or
  • loss of consciousness (fainting).

If you’re concerned about your or your dependant’s symptoms and their symptoms are not listed above, or if you need medical advice, phone:

  • 811; or
  • your primary health care provider for guidance on your next steps.

If people in your home have COVID-19 symptoms

We strongly recommend they stay home until:

  • they feel better; and
  • their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours or 48 hours if they had vomiting and/or diarrhea).

If you have a medical condition

Contact your primary health care provider if you:

  • are pregnant; or
  • have a chronic medical condition including:
    • conditions that affect your breathing, such as COPD and asthma;
    • heart disease; or
    • a compromised immune system.

How to safely stay home when sick

  • We recommend that you stay away from other people in your home who have not been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • If other people in your home also have COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from them. Get information about staying home when you’re sick.
  • People you live with who have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 are likely have COVID-19.
  • If you live alone it can be challenging to stay home when you’re sick. Connect with family or friends to ensure someone in the community can support you during your time at home.

Someone in your household is sick

What should you do?

Wearing a mask could reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to your household or family members. Use a medical grade mask if you can get it.
You should monitor members of your household for symptoms.
If more household members develop symptoms, no matter how mild, we recommend that they stay home.

If you’re breastfeeding

  • If you have COVID-19 and are breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed.
  • See BC Centre for Disease Control’s guidance on how to do this safely.
  • If you have concerns about COVID-19 and breastfeeding, contact your health care provider.

Get vaccinated

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and to prevent a serious case of infection. If you’ve had COVID-19 infection you should get up to date with your COVID-19 immunization.

You need to wait until you’ve recovered and feel better before getting the vaccine. Although it is permitted to get your vaccines as soon as you’ve recovered, it is recommended to wait 8 weeks after getting infected before receiving your primary vaccine series if you were not vaccinated before becoming infected, or to wait 3 months after getting infected to get a booster dose.

Book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

Resources for more information