What to do if you think you have COVID-19: A guide to each province and territory

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, the first step is to contact your health-care provider or local public health agency by email or telephone.

They’ll be able to tell you if you’re eligible for testing in your area. Most provinces and territories are restricting testing to those who have been exposed to people who have a confirmed or presumptive case, or have returned from travelling to an affected area.

Do not show up unannounced at a clinic or hospital. However, if you have a sharp turn in your condition, including shortness of breath, call 911 or your local emergency number.

The symptoms for adults include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Pneumonia in both lungs (diagnosed through a chest X-ray).

But for children the illness can manifest differently, with the following symptoms:

  • Runny nose.
  • Sore throat.
  • Diarrhea.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says you must call your health-care provider or the clinic you plan to attend ahead of time to let them know you have a respiratory illness.

But again, if your condition changes suddenly, call 911 or your local emergency number. When you first arrive at an urgent care centre, describe your symptoms, travel history and any contacts with ill people so appropriate precautions can be taken.

Here’s what to do based on your province or territory.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is shown during a news conference regarding the coronavirus in Vancouver on March 14. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

British Columbia

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCBC) says to call your health-care provider or 1-888-COVID19-19, the province’s new dedicated coronavirus hotline, if you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, and have been in contact with someone who is known to have the illness. The same applies if you have symptoms and have returned from — or been been in contact with someone who has returned from — an area with widespread community transmission of the illness. The BCCDC says “if you have no symptoms, mild symptoms or you are a returning traveller self-isolating at home, you do not require a test.” 

You can find B.C.’s latest coronavirus updates here.

Alberta

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Testing is currently focused on individuals who have developed symptoms within 14 days of returning from travel outside Canada, or who have had contact with someone diagnosed with the illness. The province “strongly requests” that Albertans who have returned to Canada after March 12 self-isolate for 14 days. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

You can find Alberta’s Health Services latest coronavirus updates here.

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, speaks during an update on COVID-19 in Regina on March 11. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s 811 HealthLine has been overwhelmed, but the province said Monday the service will be enhanced with 500 new lines to increase capacity. Meanwhile, the province launched an online assessment tool to help people assess whether they need medical attention and testing.

Dedicated testing facilities have been set up in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert, but they’re not open to walk-in patients. Those who fit the criteria of potential exposure, exhibit mild symptoms and suspect they have COVID-19, can obtain a referral by contacting the 811 Health Line or their family physician, or from their local Public Health Communicable Disease Control office.

You can find Saskatchewan’s latest coronavirus updates here.

You might choose to self-isolate at home if you’ve been exposed, or think you’ve been exposed, to COVID-19. Ellen Mauro explains what to do. 1:50

Manitoba

In Manitoba, you can call Health Links at 1-888-315-9257 for COVID-19 information. Wait times have been long but on March 16, Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Manitoba Shared Health, said an online self-assessment tool would be ready soon. Winnipeg has opened four dedicated testing sites, but the province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, has said that only patients with symptoms and who have returned from abroad — or have been in contact with COVID-19-positive patients — should be tested. 

Winnipeg police sent a warning March 16 about a scam in which a person gets an email saying the recipient has been contaminated by the coronavirus. The email also asks for credit card information in order to get a shipment of medication. Roussin said public health workers would never ask for financial information in an email or over the phone.

You can find Manitoba’s latest coronavirus updates here.

A security guard opens the door for a person entering a COVID-19 assessment facility in Ottawa on March 14. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ontario

In Ontario, the province with the highest number of cases of COVID-19, Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, asks people who believe they’ve been exposed to someone with the illness to begin monitoring themselves for a period of 14 days. In addition to social distancing, this means tracking and logging temperature and any symptoms you experience.

Additionally, he asks all persons over 70, and all individuals who are immunocompromised, to self-isolate for a period of 14 days, only leaving home for essential reasons and, where possible, getting help from others for critical errands. 

The Ministry of Health asks people to call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 only if they have symptoms and one of the following apply: they’ve travelled outside the country in the past 14 days, have been in close contact with the illness, or have been in close contact with someone exhibiting the symptoms who has recently travelled outside of the country. Ontarians are asked to review this self-assessment information before calling. Only if these criteria are met will you be referred for a coronavirus test.

You can find Ontario’s latest coronavirus information here.

Quebec

Quebec has set up a new information line for people who have symptoms of COVID-19, and asks people to call 1-877-644-4545 instead of 811. If you have returned from travelling and are experiencing cold and fever, the province asks you to call that number to set up an appointment for an assessment at one of 14 new coronavirus screening clinics. Only visit an emergency room for a respiratory condition if you are having difficulty breathing. 

You can find Quebec’s latest coronavirus updates here

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald is Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador

With just one presumptive case associated with a Caribbean cruise, Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest caseload of all the provinces as of March 16 (the territories have no confirmed cases). If you have returned from travelling and develop symptoms, call Health Line 811 (also available at 1-888-709-2929) or use its online self-assessment tool.

You can find Newfoundland and Labrador’s latest COVID-19 updates here.

Nova Scotia

The last among the provinces to report its first presumptive case of COVID-19, Nova Scotia is not experiencing the level of spread seen in provinces like Ontario, Quebec and B.C. Still, Health Minister Randy Delorey said the province’s 811 line has been receiving calls from people who want to be tested even though they do not have symptoms. He reminded people to reserve that line for people who are showing symptoms of a fever above 38 C and a cough, and to fill out a questionnaire on the 811 website instead to see if it’s necessary to call.

You can find Nova Scotia’s latest coronavirus updates here.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the media in Ottawa about measures to counter the coronavirus on March 16. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Prince Edward Island

If you’re in Prince Edward Island, you may have already discovered that the province’s 811 health line is experiencing higher than normal call volume. The province asks that you call only if you’ve just returned from outside of Canada and have symptoms, including a cough, fever or difficulty breathing. You’ll receive screening over the phone and, if necessary, you’ll be directed to a clinic for testing.

You can find Prince Edward Island’s latest coronavirus updates here.

New Brunswick

The province announced Monday that it has set up new COVID-19 assessment centres in Moncton, Saint John, Miramichi and Fredericton and plans to add an additional centre in Upper River Valley soon. Testing is only available by appointment to those exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 who follow a triage completed by Tele-Care 811. “If people feel that it’s a shortcut to go to these clinics directly, you will have undone our whole purpose,” said Dr. John Dornan, chief of staff for Horizon Health Network, which operates hospitals and clinics, including the new assessment centres. 

You can find New Brunswick’s latest coronavirus updates here.

Yukon 

Yukon does not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19, but the territory’s chief medical officer, Dr. Brendan Hanley, says the territory is “very likely” to see a case soon. He’s also telling people who have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days to self-isolate, including those who have been to Alaska. If you develop symptoms within 14 days of returning to Yukon after travelling and live in Whitehorse, call Yukon Communicable Disease Control at 867-667-8323. Outside of Whitehorse, call your local health centre. 

You can find Yukon’s latest coronavirus updates here.

A man takes a pamphlet as public health inspectors greet passengers at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Enfield, N.S., on March 16. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories has no presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of March 16 and is only testing those who have travelled outside the territory in the past 14 days and who are also exhibiting flu-like symptoms. The numbers to call are:

  • Yellowknife: 867-767-9120
  • Inuvik: 867-490 –2225 or 867-777-7246
  • Fort Smith: 867-872-6219 or 867-872-6221
  • Hay River: 867-874-7201

Other communities can call access the numbers for their local health centres here.

You can find Northwest Territories latest coronavirus updates here.

Nunavut

Likewise, Nunavut doesn’t have any cases as of March 16. If you develop symptoms after travelling to a region with known cases of COVID-19 or after being in close contact with someone who has, you should stay home and advise your health-care professional or public health authority of your potential exposure before coming in.

You can find Nunavut’s latest coronavirus updates here.

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