Overview

If you have COVID-19, you can spread the virus to others for up to 10 days. The risk of spread in fully vaccinated people is lower after 5 days, but it still exists.

Isolation helps prevent the spread by reducing the number of people you could infect by staying home and avoiding others. If you test positive or have symptoms not related to a pre-existing condition, it is recommended to isolate as outlined below:

  • Fully vaccinated (2 doses or 1 dose Janssen): Starting the first day of symptoms or positive test, it is recommended to isolate for a minimum of 5 days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. Following isolation, wear a mask at all times when around others outside of home for up to 5 more days (10 total). This means you should eat or drink alone, away from others.
  • Not fully vaccinated (1 dose or less): Starting the first day of symptoms or positive test, it is recommended to isolate for 10 days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
  • If you test negative and have symptoms, you should still stay home and away from others until symptoms resolve.

Quarantine limits potential spread from people who have been exposed to COVID-19 but have not yet developed symptoms or tested positive.

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Who should isolate or quarantine

COVID-19 can take up to 14 days to cause symptoms. Some people who get it only have minor symptoms or don't have any symptoms at all but could still be infectious. Staying home lowers the chance of spreading the virus to others.

  • Albertans with core symptoms

    Even if you're unable to complete a test, the recommended isolation period for people with core symptoms that are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition is:

    • Fully vaccinated: 5 days from the first day of symptoms or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. Following isolation, it is recommended to wear a mask at all times when around others outside of home for up to 5 more days (10 total). This means you should eat or drink alone, away from others.
    • Not fully vaccinated: 10 days from the first day of symptoms or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
    • If you have symptoms and test negative, you should still stay home and away from others until symptoms resolve.
  • Tested positive for COVID-19

    The recommended isolation period for people who test positive (with or without symptoms) is:

    • Fully vaccinated (2 doses or 1 dose Janssen): Starting the first day of symptoms or positive test, isolate for a minimum of 5 days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. Following isolation, wear a mask at all times when around others outside of home for up to 5 more days (10 total). This means you should eat or drink alone, away from others.
    • Not fully vaccinated (1 dose or less): Starting the first day of symptoms or positive test, isolate at home for 10 days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
  • Close contact or household contact of a confirmed case

    Household close contacts

    If you are a household contact of a positive case and you are not fully vaccinated, you should:

    • stay home for 10 days (i.e. not attend work, school or other activities)
    • monitor for symptoms - if they develop, isolate immediately

    Other close contacts

    If you have been exposed to COVID-19 by someone outside of your household, you should:

    • avoid high-risk locations such as continuing care facilities and crowded indoor spaces
    • monitor for symptoms - if they develop, isolate immediately
  • International travellers

  • Return to work or school

    • Isolation is recommended for Albertans who test positive or have core symptoms. Employers should not ask for proof of a PCR or rapid test or a medical note in order to receive time off work.
    • Proof of a negative COVID-19 test and/or a medical note is not required to return to school, work or activities once the recommended isolation period is complete.

How to prepare

  • Create a household action plan

    Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan.

    • Discuss what to do if a case occurs in your household and what the needs of each person will be with your household members, family and friends.
    • Household contacts who are not fully vaccinated should stay home for 10 days (i.e. not attend, work, school or other activities).
    • Plan ways to care for those at greater risk of serious complications, such as ensuring you have sufficient medication, and determining what supplies are needed and how they can be delivered.
    • Talk with your neighbours about emergency planning.
    • Create a list of local organizations you can contact if you need access to information, health-care services, support or resources.
    • Create an emergency contact list.
  • Prepare a space

    • Choose a room in your home you can use to separate sick household members from healthy ones.
    • Choose a separate bathroom for sick individuals to use, if possible.
    • Plan to clean these rooms as needed when someone is sick.
    • Have 72 hours’ worth of food and supplies at home. We do not recommend stockpiling goods.
  • Getting food and supplies

    • Use delivery services for errands like grocery shopping. If delivery is not available, use contactless curbside pick-up options. Stay in your vehicle at all times and wear a mask.
    • Ask friends or family to drop off food, medicine and other supplies.
  • Don’t share household items

    • Don’t share household items like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels and pillows.
    • After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water, place in the dishwasher for cleaning, or wash in the washing machine.
    • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and counters.
  • Wash your hands

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available and if your hands are not visibly dirty.
    • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes

    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
    • Throw used tissues in the garbage and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

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