Caring for someone with COVID-19

Despite your best efforts to prevent illness from COVID-19, you or your family members may still catch the virus and experience symptoms. In most cases, you can care for a person with COVID-19 at home without seeing a physician or visiting an emergency department. Make plans in advance so your family is prepared to manage symptoms until recovery if someone in your household contracts COVID-19.

Designate a Caregiver and develop an isolation plan

Ideally, only one person should provide care to someone who is in isolation or who has tested positive. If possible, the caregiver should be fully vaccinated. The caregiver should not be someone who is at high risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, including older adults or people with a chronic medical condition. Follow the isolation guidance for household contacts to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading to others in the household. The caregivers’ responsibilities include:

  • Designate one (1) caregiver
  • Keep all interactions brief and maintain distance as much as possible.
  • Wear a well-fitted mask and eye protection when providing direct care. The person who tested positive should also wear a mask when receiving care or when they briefly need to access a common space in the home. If possible, avoid activities with the person you are caring for such as eating meals, playing games, sitting or cuddling or watching television together.
  • Sleep in a separate room or in separate beds from the person you are caring for. If separate beds are not possible, position yourselves head-to-toe to keep as far away from one another as possible.
  • Use a separate washroom from the person you are caring for. If not possible, open the window, put the toilet lid down before flushing and clean and disinfect surfaces and objects the person you’re caring for has touched after each use.
  • If the person who has tested positive or has symptoms is a young child or an older individual with greater needs, designate one caregiver to isolate with the positive case as a unit to provide hands-on care. Alternatively, a household may choose to isolate together.
  • To maintain the mental resilience of household members and to help cope with the challenges of isolation, plan how you will stay connected with others during your isolation. If possible, schedule regular calls or meet virtually. Reach out to family members and close friends outside the home to let them know that you are in isolation and give them regular updates on your wellbeing.
  • Keep a list of important contact numbers accessible for household members to notify close contacts quickly, and people who can support your household during isolation. This includes:
    • Daycare, school and/or work.
    • Family, friends or community contacts to run errands or drop off supplies.
    • Medical contacts such as your primary care practitioner, local pharmacy, Tele-Care 811 and 911.

Discuss shared decision-making responsibilities in advance, such as custody and care agreements. If possible, it is safer for self-isolation to be limited to one household. Make a plan for who will take care of your children if you are feeling too unwell to care for them yourself.

If you are caring for an independent living outside your household bubble, the same recommendations and responsibilities listed above apply.


Keep supplies on hand

Stock up on supplies to help manage symptoms and medical needs, including:

  • tissues;
  • hand sanitizer;
  • a thermometer;
  • Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and/or acetaminophen (Tylenol or Tempra) for the different age groups in your home;
  • an oral electrolyte solution (i.e. Pedialyte, Gastrolyte or Gatorade); and
  • saline nose drops or spray for babies.

To protect the caregiver and to prevent transmission in the home, ensure you have well-fitted masks (preferably a three-layer mask or medical mask),  eye protection (goggles or face shield that is worn with a mask), and cleaners and disinfectants for frequently touched items such as light switches, doorknobs, remotes controls, common areas and other items touched by the person who has tested positive.


Advice for people with COVID-19 symptoms

  • Stay well rested and drink fluids frequently to stay hydrated. Babies can continue to breastfeed and/or formula feed. Children and adults can drink their preferred fluids. If vomiting develops, switch to an electrolyte solution instead.
  • A fever or discomfort can be treated with non-prescription medication like Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and/or acetaminophen (Tylenol or Tempra).
  • Use a humidifier or steam from a hot shower to ease a cough or sore throat.
  • Keep a supply of easy-to-prepare food on hand.


When to get help

Monitor for symptoms in yourself, the person you are caring for and others in the household. If symptoms develop in household members other than the person who first tested positive, they should get tested as well.

If symptoms worsen, or if you do not notice improvement after five or six days, remain in isolation and call your primary care provider or Tele-Care 811.

Do not leave your home to go to a walk-in clinic or health facility unless advised by a health-care professional.

Be aware of worrisome signs to watch out for that indicate immediate help is needed. Call 911 if you notice:

  • significant difficulty breathing;
  • chest pain or pressure;
  • new onset of confusion; or
  • difficulty waking up.

Make sure you let 911 and the hospital know that you or the person you’re caring for has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19.

Reporting your positive rapid POCT

Register your positive result online to help us understand the level of circulating illness.

Point of Care Testing – Positive Result Self Reporting

A positive POCT is now considered a positive case of COVID-19. If you have a positive rapid POCT continue to isolate and follow the online instructions for those who test positive.

How long do I isolate for?

If you have a positive POCT result, you are required to isolate regardless of your vaccination status. The length of your isolation period will differ depending on your vaccination status

For more information on isolation click here