The symptoms of COVID-19 can vary from person to person, in different age groups, and depending on the COVID-19 variant.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses such as the flu and common cold and may include one or more of the following:
- sore throat
- runny nose
- new or worsening cough
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- temperature equal to or more than 38
- feeling feverish
- fatigue or weakness
- muscle or body aches
- new loss of smell or taste
- abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting
You may start experiencing symptoms anywhere from 1 to 14 days after exposure. Typically, symptoms appear between 3 and 7 days after exposure.
If you don’t feel well or if you have any symptoms, even if mild, assume you may have COVID-19. Immediately isolate at home and stay away from others.
Some people who become infected with COVID-19 may experience long-term symptoms, even after they recover from the initial infection. This is sometimes called Post COVID-19 Condition or Long COVID.
Studies are underway to further understand what causes Long COVID-19 and how to diagnose and treat it. If you think you have this condition, talk to your healthcare provider about how to manage your symptoms.
To learn more about long-term symptoms, visit:
Vaccinations and Prevention
There are several strategies to prevent COVID-19 infection. The most important is vaccinations.
Vaccinations for COVID-19 help protect you and others from getting COVID-19 and from developing serious outcomes including death. There are several vaccines available in Canada and research around vaccinations, including booster shots, is continuously evolving.
For your health and well-being, it is important to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots.
For additional information about COVID-19 vaccines visit:
Other Prevention Strategies
In addition to vaccinations, there are other things you can do to prevent yourself from getting COVID-19 or spreading it to others:
- Wear a well-constructed and fitted mask. Masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by containing your respiratory particles and prevent or reduce the amount of infectious respiratory particles you inhale.
- Practice social distancing (6 feet distance).
- Stay home if you are unwell or test positive for COVID-19.
- Wash your hands properly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water often.
- Do not shake hands or hug.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, including phones.
- In general, keep your body and immune system in the best possible shape by getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting outside and enjoying some vitamin D from the sunlight.
- If you smoke, vape or use a water pipe, it is an especially good time to quit. COVID-19 disrupts the immune system, which is already weakened with smoke.
To learn more about COVID-19 prevention and risk, including information about COVID-19 mask use, visit Health Canada – Prevention and Risks
If you believe you have COVID-19, the first step is to get a test to diagnose it. There are 3 types of tests:
- Self-Testing (rapid antigen test) is safe, gentle, easy to use, and provides results within 15 minutes. It only takes a few seconds to collect a sample using a swab that goes into the soft part of each nostril. The tests can be done almost anywhere, at any time. If you are experiencing mild cold-like symptoms including cough, sore throat or sneezing without fever, it is recommended that you stay home, use rapid antigen testing and self-isolate if you test positive.
- PCR Testing detects the presence of viral RNA. It is very accurate and efficient. This test can detect a COVID-19 infection even before you become infectious, allowing for early isolation.
- Antibody Testing (serology) does not diagnose a current COVID-19 infection. A positive serology (blood) test means you have antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, either because you had a COVID-19 infection, you were vaccinated against COVID-19, or both. The test cannot tell how long ago you may have been infected or determine if you’re protected from reinfection.