Symptoms and treatment

Symptoms of covid 19 and variants range from mild — like the flu and other common respiratory infections — to severe. If you feel sick or not well, please stay home. Talk with a doctor if necessary.

Call 911 if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, can only speak in single words)
  • severe chest pain (constant tightness or crushing sensation)
  • feeling confused or unsure of where you are
  • losing consciousness

The most common symptoms of covid 19 include:

  • fever (a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher) and/or chills
  • cough, including a barking cough or croup (continuous, more than usual, making a whistling noise when breathing)
  • shortness of breath (out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
  • decrease or loss of taste or smell
  • for children under 18 years of age: nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • for adults over 18 years of age: muscle aches, joint pain and/or extreme tiredness

If you feel sick or not well (not related to getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the last 48 hours), please stay home. Talk with a doctor if necessary.

Complications from covid 19 can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or kidney failure and, in some cases, death.

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. However, most people who get it will recover on their own. Typical treatment for common coronaviruses includes:

  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • getting as much rest and sleep as possible
  • using a humidifier or taking a hot shower to help with a sore throat or cough

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from more severe symptoms of COVID-19 and prevent hospitalization is to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and how to book your appointment.

If you start to show symptoms of covid 19

If you begin to show symptoms of covid 19, you should:

Only call 911 if it is an emergency.

At-risk groups

Some groups are at higher risk of getting covid 19 and experiencing more severe symptoms of the virus. You may be in an at-risk group if you:

  • are 70 years old or older
  • are getting treatment that weakens your immune system (for example, chemotherapy, medication for transplants, corticosteroids, TNF inhibitors)
  • have a condition that compromises (weakens) your immune system (for example, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune disorder)
  • have a chronic (long-lasting) health condition (for example, diabetes, emphysema, asthma, heart condition)
  • regularly go to a hospital or health care setting for a treatment (for example, dialysis, surgery, cancer treatment)

What you need to do

covid 19 is spread mainly from person to person through close physical contact.

Close physical contact

Close physical contact means:

  • being less than 2 metres away in the same room, workspace, or area
  • living in the same home

Everyday actions

Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • stay home and self-isolate if you are sick (not related to getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the last 48 hours). Talk with a doctor if necessary.

Poster: What you need to know to help you and your family stay healthy (PDF)

Physical distancing

Everyone in Ontario should practise physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people — this means you should:

  • avoid crowded indoor spaces as much as possible
  • stay at least two metres away from anyone you do not live with

Learn where to get tested if you think you’ve been exposed to covid 19.

Face coverings (non-medical masks)

The best way to stop the spread of covid 19 is by getting a covid 19 vaccine and avoiding close contact with others outside of your household.

When you go out, you must use a face covering (non-medical mask such as a cloth mask) in public indoor spaces. This includes:

  • public spaces (for example, inside stores, event spaces, entertainment facilities and common areas in hotels)
  • workplaces, even those that are not open to the public
  • vehicles that operate as part of a business or organization, including taxis and rideshares

Learn about face coverings, including exceptions and how to properly fit, wear, remove and clean your non-medical face mask.

Get tested for COVID-19

Depending on your situation, you may be able to get a free covid 19 test at:

  • covid 19 assessment centres (including mobile and temporary sites)
  • participating community labs
  • participating pharmacies

Some locations may have certain restrictions (for example, some are unable to test young children).

Find out what you need to know before, during, and after a test at an assessment centre, pharmacy, or community lab.

How to self-isolate

Self-isolating means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of disease.

You should self-isolate if you:

  • think you have symptoms of covid 19
  • think you have been exposed to someone with covid 19 or who has recently returned from travel
  • are directed to self-isolate by a public health unit or your health care provider

This means that you should only leave your home or see other people for critical reasons (like a medical emergency). Where possible, you should try to get what you need:

  • online
  • over the phone
  • from friends, family or neighbours

Stay home

  • do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares
  • do not go to work, school or other public places
  • your health care provider will tell you when it is safe to leave

Limit the number of visitors in your home

  • only have visitors who you must see (for example, for medical reasons) – do not invite people over to socialize
  • keep necessary visits short
  • do not visit with people who are in at-risk groups

Avoid contact with others

  • stay in a separate room, away from other people in your home, as much as possible
  • use a separate bathroom if you have one
  • make sure that shared rooms have good airflow (for example, open windows)
  • keep a distance of at least 6 feet (2 metres) in shared spaces

Wear a mask

  • wear a face covering or mask when you:
    • leave your house to see a health care provider or get a covid 19 test
    • are within two metres of other people or where it may be difficult to maintain physical distancing (for example, in a grocery store)
  • make sure you properly wear, fit, remove and clean your face covering or mask

Keep your distance

  • if you are in a room with other people, stay at least two metres away from each other and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • if you cannot wear a mask, other people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you

Cover your coughs and sneezes

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand
  • throw used tissues in a wastebasket that’s lined with a plastic bag
    • the plastic bag makes it safer and easier to empty the wastebasket
    • after emptying the wastebasket, wash your hands

Wash your hands

  • wash your hands often with soap and water
  • dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares
  • use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

Read the Government of Canada’s guidance on how to self-isolate if you have:

Poster: How to self-isolate (PDF).

If you experience domestic violence

Having to self-isolate may put people experiencing domestic violence at greater risk. During the province’s state of emergency, ministry-funded emergency shelters for women and children fleeing violence continue to operate and are available to support.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police.

To find support in your area, you can call:

How to care for someone with COVID-19

Wash your hands often

  • wash your hands with soap and water after each contact with the infected person
  • use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

Wear a mask and gloves

  • wear a mask and gloves when you have contact any of the person’s bodily fluids including:
    • saliva
    • blood
    • vomit
    • urine
    • feces

Throw out used gloves and masks

  • take the gloves and mask off right after you provide care and throw them in a waste basket lined with a plastic bag
    • take off the gloves first and clean your hands with soap and water before taking off your mask
  • clean your hands again with soap and water before touching your face or doing anything else

Limit the number of visitors in your home

  • only have visitors who you must see and keep the visits short
  • ensure vulnerable people — seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (for example, diabetes, lung problems, and immune deficiency) — stay away from the infected person

Avoid sharing household and personal items

  • do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with the infected person
  • after use, wash household items in a dishwasher, washing machine or by hand with soap and warm water — you don’t have to use a special type of soap
  • do not share cigarettes


  • clean your home with regular household cleaners
  • clean regularly touched items such as toilets, sink tap handles, doorknobs and bedside tables daily

Wash laundry thoroughly

  • wear gloves when handling an infected person’s laundry
    • you can safely wash other laundry with the infected person’s
    • wash your hands with soap and water immediately after taking your gloves off

Be careful when touching waste

  • all waste can go into regular garbage bins
    • line your wastebasket with a plastic bag — the plastic bag makes it safer and easier to empty the wastebasket
  • after emptying the wastebasket, wash your hands

Poster: Self-isolation: Guide for caregivers, household members and close contacts (PDF)

Updated: September 29, 2021
Published: April 10, 2020