Last updated: November 21, 2022

To reduce the spread of all respiratory viruses including COVID-19 and the flu, anyone with new symptom(s) of any respiratory virus should stay home. Continue to follow public health measures and stay up-to-date with your vaccinations including a COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine when eligible for the best protection against getting very sick.

If you have symptoms of any respiratory viral infection, take the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Self-Assessment for recommendations on what to do next. For more information, visit the Provincial website.

Stay home until you have no fever and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and/or diarrhea).

If you have COVID-19 or other respiratory virus symptoms, you may be eligible for COVID-19 testing and treatment. You can take a Rapid Antigen Test if you have one. COVID-19 treatment must be taken within the first five to seven days from the start of your symptoms.

COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, such as the flu, share some common symptoms.

COVID-19 specific symptoms can vary from person-to-person and may take up to 14 days after a COVID-19 exposure to appear.

If you have ONE or more of the symptoms of COVID-19 (new or worsening) below, assume that you may have the virus and be contagious. Seek testing and treatment if eligible:

  • Fever (37.8˚ C or higher) and/or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Decreased or loss of taste or smell

If you have TWO or more of the symptoms of COVID-19 (new or worsening) below, assume that you may have the virus and be contagious. Seek testing and treatment if eligible:

  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches or joint pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (such as vomiting or diarrhea)

Other symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19 include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Decreased or lack of appetite

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.

If you have any of the symptoms above, you should stay home (self-isolate) while you are sick. Stay home until you have no fever and your symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and/or diarrhea).

If you likely have COVID-19 based on the symptoms above, notify your close contacts. You should also:

  • After isolating, wear a well-fitted, high quality mask when out in public for 10 days from when your symptoms started.
  • Avoid non-essential visits to vulnerable individuals (e.g. seniors) and highest risk settings (e.g., hospitals, long-term care) for 10 days from when your symptoms started.
  • Follow this advice whether you have tested for COVID-19 or not.
  • Make sure you know if you are eligible for COVID-19 treatments and how to get tested and access treatment if you are eligible.

For more information, visit our What To Do If You Have COVID-19 webpage.

Other respiratory viruses like the flu have similar symptoms. If it is unlikely that you have COVID-19 based on the symptoms above, you should still stay home while you are sick.

If your symptoms feel worse than a common cold, call your health care practitioner or Health Connect Ontario at 811.

If you have ANY of the following signs of severe illness, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy or drowsiness
  • Dizziness

If you do not feel well enough to take personal transport, call 911:

The following infants and children should also be assessed in the emergency department:

  • Infants under 3 months of age with fever or trouble breathing or appear unwell
  • Children and infants over 3 months of age with any of the following:
    • Fever longer than 7 days
    • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
    • Bluish skin colour
    • Not drinking enough fluids
    • Not waking up or not interacting
    • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
    • Fever with a rash
    • Constant vomiting
    • Immune compromised with a fever
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.

Before going for in-person medical care, tell them that you likely have COVID-19.

If your child has any of the symptoms listed above (even if mild) they should take the COVID-19 & Respiratory Viruses Screening Questionnaire or the Ontario Ministry of Health school and child care screening to find out what to do next.

Learn more about what to do if your child has COVID-19 symptoms.

People who have had COVID-19 can experience symptoms for weeks or months after their initial infection – this is known as long COVID or post-COVID condition. Even though they have symptoms, people with long COVID no longer have the virus and cannot spread it.

Anyone who gets COVID-19 can develop long COVID. In Canada, 15% of people (approximately 1.4 million) continue to have symptoms for at least 3 months.

There is a higher chance of getting long COVID if your infection was severe and required hospitalization. However, even people with a mild or moderate COVID-19 illness can get long COVID, and even people who had no symptoms.

Long COVID can be serious. Over 20% of adults in Canada with long COVID say their symptoms impact their ability to do daily activities. Almost half say that they experienced symptoms for over a year, and missed about 20 days of work or school.

Diagnosis

Long COVID is diagnosed when someone has ongoing or new symptoms for weeks or months after a COVID-19 infection that are not from another health condition or illness. There is currently no test to diagnose long COVID. If you think you have long COVID, speak with a healthcare provider.

Symptoms

Common symptoms in adults include:

  • Feeling tired
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Shortness of breath or cough
  • Changes in mood
  • General pain (e.g., chest, joint, muscle) or muscle weakness
  • Difficulty with memory, thinking or concentration (“brain fog”)

Common symptoms in children include:

  • Feeling tired
  • Cough, stuffy or runny nose
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Difficulty concentrating (e.g., having new difficulties learning at school)

People with long COVID may continue to have their original symptoms or get new symptoms which can change or get worse. If you have long COVID, you can get COVID-19 again. Seek testing if you have new symptoms of an infection and are eligible.

Treatment and Prevention

There is currently no specific treatment for long COVID. The best way to reduce your risk is by not getting COVID-19. Stay up-to-date with vaccines, plus any booster dose(s) when eligible, and continue to follow public health measures whenever possible.

We do not know why some people with COVID-19 develop long COVID while others do not. However, getting vaccinated protects against severe COVID-19 infections and reduces the risk of having long COVID.

For more information, visit toronto.ca/COVID19 or call 416-338-7600.