COVID-19 Symptoms

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
  • sneezing
  • new or worsening cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • temperature equal to or more than 38
  • feeling feverish
  • chills
  • fatigue or weakness
  • muscle or body aches
  • new loss of smell or taste
  • headache
  • 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.

Long-term Symptoms

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.