Last updated: January 14, 2021 at 9:45 a.m.

Toronto Public Health is partnering with Outbreaks Near Me to monitor the frequency of COVID-like symptoms in Toronto. Help us learn how symptoms of COVID-19 may be moving through our community by completing a short survey about your current symptoms.

People who have mild or moderate illness must isolate for 10 days after symptoms started, and people who have severe illness or are severely immuno-compromised must isolate for 20 days. Close contacts must continue to isolate for 14 days after their last contact with someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19. Read the Ontario Ministry of Health’s clearance guidance for people who test positive for COVID-19 for more information.


There is a test for COVID-19 which tells you if you have the infection right now. You should get tested for COVID-19 if:

  • You have one or more symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild;
  • You have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, as informed by public health or through the COVID Alert app;
  • Public health has asked you to get tested (e.g. there are cases of COVID-19 in your workplace or school); or
  • You are eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Long-Term Care or other Ministries.

Toronto Public Health offices are not an assessment centre and testing is not provided at our offices.

Not Tested but Have Symptoms

If you were not tested but have symptoms of COVID-19, and you were not a close contact of someone with COVID-19, you will have to self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started.  Household members should continue to self-monitor for 14 days. Household members can continue to attend school or work as long as they do not have symptoms.

If you were not tested but have symptoms of COVID-19 and were a close contact of someone who had COVID-19, you will have to continue to self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started.  Household members will need to self-isolate for 14 days and get tested if they develop symptoms.  They cannot attend school or work until COVID-19 is ruled out.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from the day your symptoms started or the day of your test if you have no symptoms.

Self-isolation is mandatory under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, and if you fail to do this, you could be fined under the Act. Please review information about the COVID-19 Self-Isolation Class Order.

If you cannot safely self-isolate in your own home, you may be eligible to stay at the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre.

For your protection, you should take extra precautions if:

  • You have a weakened immune system
  • You have a medical condition

You must isolate yourself from others if:

  • You have COVID-19, or
  • You have COVID-19 symptoms, or
  • You have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, or
  • Someone in your household was exposed to someone who has COVID-19, has symptoms and is awaiting their test results, or
  • You have returned from anywhere outside Canada, including the United States, within the past 14 days, or
  • You received a notification on the COVID Alert app and you are awaiting test results.

Follow Public Health Ontario’s instructions on how to self-isolate.

Instructions on how to self-isolate are also available in: French | Arabic | Bengali | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Eastern Ojibwe | Farsi | German | Greek | Gujarati | Hindi | Italian | Japanese | Korean | Mohawk | Oji-Cree | Polish | Portuguese | Punjabi | Romanian | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Swampy Cree | Tagalog | Tamil | Ukrainian | Urdu | Vietnamese

Notify close contacts who you spent time with while you were infectious that they must self-isolate and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days from the last date of exposure.

You should also notify your employer and/or school that you tested positive for COVID-19.

Close Contact

  • You were within 6 feet/2 metres for 15 minutes or more.
  • You had multiple close encounters with someone over a 24-hour period (even if each was less than 15 minutes).
  • You had close, physical contact with the person, such as a hug.
  • You live or provide care in the same home.

Not a Close Contact

  • You had brief, close contact while wearing a mask and/or with a barrier in place.
  • You passed someone quickly.
  • You greeted someone and kept your distance.
  • You made a delivery to someone who was self-isolating but had no contact with them.

Download this information as a PDF.


COVID-19 causes a range of symptoms that vary from person-to-person.

Some people may experience mild or no physical symptoms. Symptoms can take up to 14 days after exposure to COVID-19 to appear, and include new or worsening:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing

If you are having difficulty breathing, call 911.

Disease symptoms may be different, depending on age. Children and older adults with COVID-19, may also have non-specific symptoms (also available in French), such as:

  • disorientation, confusion
  • sleeping more than usual or muscle aches
  • dizziness, weakness or falls
  • chills, headaches

Rarely, children can get an inflammatory condition that impacts the blood vessels, called vasculitis. It can present with prolonged fever, abdominal pain, red eyes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash. It needs medical attention.

For others, there is a higher risk for severe illness, including people over the age of 60, and those with weakened immunity or underlying health conditions.

Monitor Your Symptoms

If you have been advised by Telehealth, your health care provider, or your local public health unit to self-monitor, follow Public Health Ontario’s instructions on how to self-monitor.

Instructions on how to self-monitor are also available in: French | Arabic | Bengali | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Eastern Ojibwe | Farsi | German | Greek | Gujarati | Hindi | Italian | Japanese | Korean | Mohawk | Oji-Cree | Polish | Portuguese | Punjabi | Romanian | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Swampy Cree | Tagalog | Tamil | Ukrainian | Urdu | Vietnamese


There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. People who have COVID-19 should receive supportive health care to help relieve symptoms. People with more severe illness may require hospitalization.

If symptoms feel worse than a standard cold, call your health care practitioner. They can relieve symptoms by prescribing a pain or fever medication.

You should also:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get rest and sleep as much as possible
  • Try a humidifier or a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough

Due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in Toronto, Toronto Public Health (TPH) has temporarily changed how we do contact tracing. We are focusing our efforts on the highest risk situations. This means people who have COVID-19 and whose infection poses the most risk to others.

For the time being, TPH will contact people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to:

  • Confirm their positive COVID-19 lab test results.
  • Assess their symptoms, and determine when they started.
  • Confirm their ability to safely self-isolate or refer them to the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre.
  • Provide instructions on how they can notify their high-risk contacts.

TPH is asking people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 to identify the number of close contacts they had in the 14 days before their symptoms started. A close contact is anyone they spent more than 15 minutes with at any indoor social gathering or in a crowded indoor space who is not part of their household. This information will help TPH identify people who had 10 or more high-risk contacts to help with contact management and follow up. TPH will also be using an online survey to collect information on how people got infected to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our city. TPH continues to investigate and respond to outbreaks in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes, shelters, schools, and child care settings.

When the number of COVID-19 cases in Toronto returns to a manageable level, TPH will resume its regular contact tracing process.

Download this information as a PDF (also available in Amharic | Arabic | Bengali | Dari | Farsi | French | Gujarati | Pashto | Portuguese | Punjabi | Simplified Chinese | Somali | Spanish | Tamil | Urdu | Vietnamese).

The Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre is available for individuals living with others who need a safe and comfortable space to self-isolate.

When someone has COVID-19, they must stay home and self-isolate to prevent further virus spread. Unfortunately, some people may not be able to do this safely in their own home. There may be other people living in their household and/or they may not have enough space to self-isolate from others. They may also have an underlying health condition and live with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

If someone is not able to self-isolate they risk spreading COVID-19 to others in their household, which means it could spread in the community too. The Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre helps reduce these risks.


Toronto Public Health may identify individuals who can benefit from this program through its process of contacting COVID-19 cases in the City. In addition, individuals in the City of Toronto can self-refer through calling the COVID-19 Hotline at 416-338-7600 to complete an eligibility assessment.

Planning for Your Stay

Toronto Public Health will organize your stay at the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre.

If you need transportation to and from the Centre, Toronto Public Health can arrange that for you. You will have free access to a comfortable and safe room along with Wi-Fi, a landline phone, television, and three meals and two snacks a day.

Call the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline at 416-338-7600, seven days a week, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. to learn more.

Download the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre infographic. Also available in Amharic | Arabic | Bengali | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Dari | Farsi | French | Gujarati | Hindi | Hungarian | Italian | Karen | Korean | Nepali | Pashtu | Polish | Portuguese | Punjabi | Russian | Serbian | Slovak | Somali | Spanish | Tagalog | Tamil | Turkish | Ukrainian | Urdu | Vietnamese

  • Toronto Public Health (TPH) does not recommend that you get re-tested after finishing your isolation.
    • Re-testing is not recommended because you may still test positive for several weeks even though you are no longer able to spread the virus.
    • A negative test, doctor’s note, or clearance letter is not a TPH requirement for you to return to work.
    • TPH does not provide return to work letters.
  • In general, you are no longer infectious and can return to work 10 days after your symptoms began.
  • If after 10 days you still have a fever, or if it’s been less than 24 hrs since your symptoms started to improve, you should stay at home and not go to work.
  • Even if you are no longer infectious after 10 days, you may feel lingering effects of your illness. Please speak with your health care provider or call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000.
  • If you were admitted to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or you have been told that you are severely immune-compromised you should isolate for 20 days (from when symptoms began).
    • If you never had symptoms, you can return to work 10 days after your testing date.
    • When you return to work you must continue to take precautions, including physical distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands.
  • For any other illnesses, or if you had symptoms and tested negative for COVID-19, you should not return to work until you no longer have a fever and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours.
  • If you are a close contact of someone who had COVID-19, you must self-isolate for the full 14 days, even if you test negative for COVID-19.
  • If you have questions about your isolation period or whether you can return to work, call the COVID-19 Hotline 416-338-7600.

Toronto Public Health is asking people who get tested for COVID-19 to complete a confidential and voluntary online survey about their activities in the days before their test. The survey is part of a new study that compares the activities of people who test positive to those who test negative around the same time, to help us better understand how the virus is spreading in Toronto.

People who test positive will receive a link via email from the Communicable Disease Investigator who contacts them to follow up on their test results. People who test negative will receive an automated text message from 1-833-929-2338 with a link to complete the survey.

The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete and is voluntary. Participation will not affect any services that you receive from the City of Toronto.

All survey responses will be kept confidential, secure and private. The survey tool adheres to all necessary security measures for storage of personal and health information in Ontario. The information will only be used for the purposes of the provincial Health Protection and Promotion Act. Survey results will only be reported at an aggregate level and individuals cannot be identified from the data being collected.

Know Where to Get Help

  • If you have any questions, call the COVID-19 Hotline at 416-338-7600, 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • If you need social supports and community resources, please call/text 211.
  • If you need medical assistance, please call Telehealth Ontario 24 hours a day at 1-866-797-0000 or call 911 in an emergency.


For information in French about COVID-19, please visit the Government of Ontario’s website and Public Health Ontario portal.