Last updated: May 10, 2022 at 1 p.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.

 

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you may be eligible for COVID-19 testing and treatment. Treatment must be taken within the first 5 to 7 days from the start of your symptoms. For more information, visit the COVID-19 Treatment page.

You are considered a person with COVID-19 if ANY of the following apply:

  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 on a PCR, Rapid Molecular, or Rapid Antigen test.
  • You have been told by Toronto Public Health that you have a “probable case” of COVID-19.
  • You are not eligible for testing but you likely have COVID-19 based on your symptoms.

For more information on what to do if you are a person with COVID-19, visit the Provincial website.

If you are considered to have COVID-19, you must self-isolate immediately from the day your symptoms started or the day of your test (if you have no symptoms).

To find out how long you need to self-isolate, review the table below:

Population Isolation Period Additional Precaution
  • Fully vaccinated individuals (e.g. 2 or more doses)
  • Children 11 years of age or younger
5 Days after symptom onset or positive test date, whichever happened first From day 6-10, you must:

  • Wear a well-fitted mask in public places. Avoid activities that require mask removal (e.g. dining out, playing a wind instrument, high contact sports where masks cannot be safely worn
  • NOT visit or attend work at high-risk settings (e.g., hospitals, long-term care homes, or congregate living settings)
  • NOT visit individuals who may be at higher risk for illness (e.g., older adults, those that have a weak immune system)
  • Individuals 12+ who are NOT fully vaccinated
  • Hospitalized for COVID-19 related illness (not in ICU)
  • Residing in high-risk settings (e.g. long-term care home, or congregate setting)

 

 

10 days after symptom onset or positive test date, whichever happened first N/A
Individuals with a weak immune system (immunocompromised)* 10 days after symptom onset or positive test date, whichever happened first From day 11-20, you must:

  • Wear a well-fitted mask in public places. Avoid activities that require mask removal (e.g. dining out, playing a wind instrument, high contact sports where masks cannot be safely worn
  • NOT visit or attend work at high-risk settings (e.g., hospitals, long-term care homes, or congregate living settings)
  • NOT visit individuals who may be at higher risk for illness (e.g., older adults, those that have a weak immune system)
Severe illness (requiring ICU-Level of care) 20 Days after symptom onset or positive test date, whichever happened first N/A

*If you have a weak immune system, speak with your health care provider to find out if this direction applies to you. Learn how to count your self-isolation period.

To safely self-isolate, you should:

  • Stay home (a separate room from others) as much as possible
  • Wear a well-fitted mask when leaving your room
  • Maintain a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) when outside your room
  • Use a separate bathroom if possible; if using a shared space, use it at a separate time and clean any high-touch surfaces after use
  • Do not eat meals with others in the same area of your home
  • Do not share a bed

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

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

You must remain in isolation until you have no fever and your symptoms are getting better for at least 24 hours (48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea).

To stop the spread of COVID-19, it is important that you notify your close contacts. A close contact is anyone who you spent time with when you were infectious.

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms, your infectious period began 48 hours before your symptoms started.
  • If you do not have COVID-19 symptoms, your infectious period began 48 hours before your positive COVID-19 test date.

Determining Your Close Contacts

  • Anyone you live with
    • To find out if your household members need to self-isolate, visit our close contact page. If they develop any symptoms, refer to the symptoms page for direction on what they need to do
  • Anyone who was within 2 metres (6 feet) of you for 15 minutes or more, without a well-fitted mask;
  • Anyone you had multiple close encounters with over a 24-hour period (even if each was less than 15 minutes) without a well-fitted mask;
  • Anyone you had close, physical contact with (e.g. hugging)

Please refer all of your close contact to the close contact page.

Close contacts do not include the following people:

  • People you had brief, close contact with while wearing a well-fitted mask and/or with a barrier (e.g. Plexiglas) in place.
  • People who you passed by quickly.
  • People you greeted while staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart.
  • Someone who made a delivery to you while you were self-isolating, but who did not have close contact with you.

Resources

If you are unable to safely self-isolate in your own home because of lack of space, or because you live with people with underlying health conditions, you may be eligible for support at the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre. The Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre provides access to a safe and comfortable room, with meals provided, free wi-fi, a landline phone and television. This free service is available to people living in Toronto to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others in their household and the broader community.

Eligibility

Toronto Public Health may identify individuals who can benefit from this program through its process of contacting COVID-19 cases in the City. Alternatively, if you are a member of the public and think you would benefit from this program because you are a case or contact or someone with COVID-19, please contact our COVID-19 hotline at 416-338-7600 Monday to Friday from 8:30-4:30pm or 311 on weekends for more information.

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. Learn more about what to bring if you are staying at the Centre.

You may bring food from home, receive outside deliveries or have family or friends drop off food or packages. You may also receive deliveries from community agencies. Only designated staff or guests are allowed to enter the Centre and so all deliveries are received at the front door.

Hotel staff will not enter your room during your stay. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, your room will only be cleaned after you leave the hotel.

photo of Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre reception area
photo of Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre guestroom

The Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre is made possible through funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Testimonials

Read what guests who stayed at the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Centre had to say about their experience:

Thank you so much for allowing me to come here. I appreciate this so much. I’m really so, so happy that I made sure that I didn’t pass COVID to my family. I have two children that I wanted to protect. My daughter has severe asthma and both of my children got tested and they tested negative. I am so grateful and appreciate that you gave me a place to stay and all my meals. While, I was here I was able to sew my daughter a new dress by hand and a matching red face mask. Thank you so much.

Thank you for taking care of me and for the daily check-up calls to make sure that I am safe and comfortable while here in isolation.”

I have never been happier to be Canadian. I am grateful to have this service to be able to isolate… it is truly a blessing to be Canadian; to have Toronto Public Health and OHIP to support me. Thank you for being here for me today and each day as I move through this uncertain virus.

Resources

What is a High-Risk Setting?

High-risk settings are settings where there are vulnerable populations and/or where risk for transmission is greatest. High-risk settings include:

  • Hospitals  (including complex continuing care facilities)
  • Congregate living settings, e.g. long-term care homes, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, correctional institutions and hospital schools
  • International Agricultural Workers

COVID-19 Cases in High-Risk Settings

If you are a case associated with a high-risk setting outlined above, you must self-isolate.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you may be eligible for publicly-funded PCR testing. To find out if you are eligible, visit the provincial website.

Returning to Work

If you work in a high-risk setting, you can return to work after 10 days or sooner in some instances. Speak to your employer and follow workplace guidelines for return to work criteria.

Tell your employer that you have tested positive for COVID-19 and follow workplace policies.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may be contacted by the Assessment Centre, Toronto Public Health, or the Ontario Ministry of Health’s provincial workforce. You may receive either a text message, a call, or both in some cases. The information on this page provides the direction on what you need to do; see the self-isolate section for how long you should self-isolate.

As part of your call you may be:

  • Provided with your test results.
  • Asked about your symptoms and when they may have started.
  • Asked if you visited any high-risk settings during your infectious period.
  • Asked if you are able to safely self-isolate or referred to the Toronto Voluntary Isolation Center.
  • Provided with your self-isolation period, and when you can end isolation and return to work or school.
  • Provided information about what your household members need to do and what to tell any other close contacts.

Text Messages from Toronto Public Health

You may receive a text message from Toronto Public Health that you have tested positive for COVID-19. The text message will be from 77000. It may include one of the following:

  • A secure link to complete a personal assessment form may be sent. The form is voluntary and will take about 10 minutes to complete.
    • These are delivered by the Virtual Assistant tool, which is part of the Government of Ontario’s case and contact management system. It can be used on mobile devices and created for a mobile experience.
    • All information collected through the tool is kept confidential and protected by Ontario’s health laws. It will only be used for public health purposes.
    • After you complete the form, you may receive a call to confirm the information you submitted.
  • A 1-way text with a link to instructions on how long you will need to self-isolate for and what you need to do to help prevent further virus spread.

You can opt out by texting STOP. If you have any questions about text messages from Toronto Public Health, you can call the COVID-19 Hotline at 416-338-7600. Please do not reply to these text messages as your message will not be received.

Resource:

Keep track of your symptoms so you can tell a health care provider how you have been feeling. Learn more on when to seek medical attention.

You do not need a test to show you have recovered from COVID-19 or to end your isolation.  Re-testing is not recommended because you may still test positive for several weeks even though you are no longer infectious.

A negative test, doctor’s note, or clearance letter is not required for you to return to work and Toronto Public Health does not provide return-to-work letters.

In general, you can return to work, school, and your everyday activities when you finish your self-isolation period, as long as you have no fever and your symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea). If you work in a high-risk setting, you can return to work after 10 days or sooner in some instances, speak to your employer and follow workplace policies.

Toronto Public Health strongly recommends that you continue to practice prevention measures. These include hand washing and physical distancing, where possible. Toronto Public Health also strongly recommends wearing a high quality, well-fitted mask especially in indoor spaces (e.g. crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation). Masks are especially recommended for people at higher risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19. Masks are still required in some settings.

You may feel lingering effects of your illness even after your self-isolation period ends. Please speak with your health care provider or call Health Connect Ontario at 811, if you need further care.

If you have questions about your self-isolation period or whether you can return to work, call the COVID-19 Hotline 416-338-7600.

Breast milk provides many health benefits including protection from many illnesses and is recommended even if you have COVID-19.

Current evidence suggests that breast milk is not likely to spread the virus to babies.

Studies show that antibodies are found in the breastmilk of people who got the COVID-19 vaccine. This means protection against COVID-19 may be passed to baby through breastfeeding. More studies are needed to find out how much protection this offers.

If you have COVID-19 and choose to breastfeed:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 15 seconds before and after breastfeeding, expressing breastmilk and caring for your baby. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 70 % alcohol
  • Take all self-isolation precautions and wear a well-fitted face mask while breastfeeding whenever you are within 6 feet of your baby
  • Monitor your baby for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • Take care of yourself. Drink plenty of fluids, eat regularly throughout the day and make sleep/rest a priority

If you feel too sick to breastfeed or are not with your baby, try to hand express or pump your milk at least eight times in 24 hours, and once during the night, to keep up your breastmilk supply.

If you have COVID-19 and choose to express breast milk:

  • Use your own breast pump (one not shared with anyone else), if possible
  • Wear a mask as you express breast milk
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before touching any pump or bottle parts
  • The expressed breastmilk may be fed to your baby from a cup, spoon or bottle by someone who is well
  • If a bottle is used to feed expressed breast milk, make sure that it is properly sterilized
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for pump cleaning after each use

All caregivers must practice good hygiene, including hand washing and wearing a face mask, before touching the baby, breast pump, or feeding bottles and equipment.

Learn more about breastfeeding and COVID-19 and breastfeeding.

Also see information about vaccinations while breastfeeding.

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive (PCR or rapid antigen test), you and the people you live with must follow all self-isolation precautions.
  • You can still hold your baby skin-to-skin and stay in the same room as them, especially when bonding and breastfeeding
  • To lower the chance of spreading the virus to your baby or child:
    • Always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before touching your baby or child.
    • When awake, wear a well-fitted high-quality mask over your nose and mouth whenever you are within 6 feet of your baby/child and other people during your entire isolation period. Children over the age of two should also wear a well-fitted face mask when they are near you.
    • If sleeping in the same room as your baby or child, make sure the space is well ventilated and maximize the physical distance between you.
    • Have your older child sleep in their own room if possible.
    • If you share a bathroom with your child, always clean high-touch surfaces (counters, faucets, doorknobs and toilet handles) after each use and close the lid of the toilet before flushing it.
    • Avoid eating with your child, and if possible, have someone else prepare your child’s meals.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home.
  • If possible, ask a healthy caregiver or family member who is feeling well, is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and is not at a higher risk for severe illness to help provide care for your baby or child and follow the same precautions as above. If you require support, please call 211.
  • Once you are feeling well and have finished isolating, the best way to protect yourself and your child is to ensure your entire household get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Infant feeding:

  • If you are breastfeeding, always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before touching the baby and wear a face mask while breastfeeding.
  • If you have made an informed decision to feed your baby infant formula:
    • Ask someone who is well to feed the baby, if possible
    • Always wash your hands and wear a face mask while preparing formula and feeding the baby.
    • Sterilize bottles and equipment, and wash your hands before handling clean bottles and equipment.
    • Try to have a three day supply of formula on hand.
    • If your baby is under two months of age, use liquid concentrate or ready-to-feed formula.
    • Homemade infant formula is not recommended as it is nutritionally incomplete. Learn about infant formula.

More information