Toronto Public Health is reviewing updated measures and guidelines from the Ontario government. Some information on this page may change accordingly, so please check back for updates. For more information, see updated guidance on testing and case and contact management.

Last updated January 3, 2022 at 3:37 p.m.

Learn about COVID-19 symptoms and what to do if you experience symptoms. If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, you should closely monitor for symptoms and get tested if symptoms develop – even if you have already been tested. If you are not a close contact, you should use the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to determine if you should get tested.

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 10 days after exposure to COVID-19 to appear.

Omicron Surge Guidance:

The symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to symptoms of many other illnesses. Due to the widespread transmission of COVID-19 in Toronto, there are not enough tests available for everyone who has symptoms. If you are worried you have symptoms of COVID-19, read the lists below and click on the links for more information. You can also refer to the flow chart below for what to do next.

If you have ONE or more of the following four List A symptoms, then it is highly likely you have COVID-19. You and your household members must self-isolate – visit our What To Do if You Have COVID-19 webpage for next steps:

  • Fever > 37.8˚ C and/or chills
  • Cough – new or worsening
  • Trouble breathing
  • Decrease or loss of smell or taste

If you have TWO or more of the following five List B symptoms, then it is highly likely you have COVID-19. You and your household members must self-isolate – please visit our What To Do if You Have COVID-19 webpage for next steps:

  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Very tired
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches or joint pain

Other less common symptoms include the following. If you have any of these (and do not have any of the symptoms in the above two lists) then it is less likely you have COVID-19:

  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea (age <18 only)
  • Abdominal pain that does not go away
  • Headache (new and unexplained)
  • Pink eye
  • Lack of appetite (young children)

If you ONLY have one or more of the five symptoms above, you should self-isolate (stay home) until your symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours. If you have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain you must wait 48 hours once your symptoms are improving before ending self-isolation.

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 – especially for those who are not vaccinated.

Worried About an Exposure

If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you should self-monitor for symptoms every day for 10 days from the date of the exposure. If you live with someone who likely has COVID-19, you must self-isolate. Follow the instructions on the Close Contact page for more information. If you have been told you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, please visit our webpage for more information.

When To Seek Medical Attention

If you meet the criteria for likely having COVID-19 (i.e. ONE or more of the symptoms from List A or TWO or more of the symptoms from List B), you must self-isolate for 5 days from the date your symptoms started.  Everyone you live with must also self-isolate for 5 days, even if they are fully vaccinated.  You and the people you live with can stop isolating after 5 days if your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms).

If your symptoms feel worse than a common cold, call your health care practitioner or Tele-Health Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

People who are experiencing at least one of the symptoms of COVID-19 and 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

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

Refer to the Ministry flow chart on page 10 for further guidance on what to do if you have symptoms.

As per the information above, if you likely have COVID-19, you and your household members must self-isolate – please visit our What To Do if You Have COVID-19 webpage for next steps

Most people no longer require testing to confirm they have COVID-19. PCR testing is available for those at increased risk of severe illness and for those living or working in highest risk settings.

If you have a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at home, you can also administer it to yourself.

Based on the results of your PCR or RAT, do the following:

  • Positive PCR/ rapid antigen test (RAT)
    • You have COVID-19. If you have had at least two COVID-19 vaccines or are under the age of 12, you must self-isolate for at least 5 days from when you started to feel unwell and until your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours. If you have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain you must wait 48 hours once your symptoms are improving before ending self-isolation.  If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 5 days from when you had a positive test.
    • If you are have not had at least two COVID-19 vaccines and are 12 years old or older or if you are immune compromised, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of your test (whichever was earlier).
    • Your household contacts must self-isolate for the same amount of time you are self-isolating
    • A positive rapid antigen test (RAT) is highly suggests that an individual has COVID-19 and does not need to be confirmed by a PCR/rapid molecular test
    • A positive rapid antigen test (RAT) does not need to be reported to Toronto Public Health
    • You may stop self-isolating after 5 days (at 11:59 p.m.) if:
      • Your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (48 hours for nausea, diarrhea, or stomach pain)
  • Negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)
    • If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 – you do not need to self-isolate
    • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, it is still possible you have COVID-19 and you must continue to self-isolate
    • Refer close contacts to guidance
    • If another rapid antigen test (RAT) is available, repeat the RAT in 24-48 hours
      • If the second RAT is also negative, then you most likely do not have COVID-19 and you can end self-isolation when your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (48 hours for nausea, diarrhea, or stomach pain)
      • Your household members can also stop self-isolating if both of your rapid antigen tests (RATs) are negative, as long as they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 – if they have symptoms of COVID-19, they should follow the directions above for people who are symptomatic
  • Negative PCR
    • If the PCR test is Negative, then you most likely do not have COVID-19 and you can end self-isolation when your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (48 hours for nausea, diarrhea, or stomach pain)
    • Your household members can also stop self-isolating if both of your PCR is negative, provided they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 – if they have symptoms of COVID-19, they should follow the directions above.