Symptoms, About, Spread

COVID-19

Effective January 3, 2022: New isolation requirements. See isolation and quarantine requirements for more information.

Core Symptoms| Other Symptoms| About COVID-19| COVID-19 Spread| COVID-19 vs. Influenza

Core Symptoms

Adults (18+)

If you are over the age of 18 and have any of the following core symptoms, not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition, you are legally required to isolate. Stay home and away from other people until your symptoms get better.

Symptoms:

  • new onset of cough or worsening chronic cough
  • fever
  • new or worsening shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • loss of sense of smell or taste

You are legally required to isolate for 10 days, or for 5 days if you are fully immunized. Complete the COVID-19 Assessment & Testing tool to find out if you should be tested for COVID-19 and for more information.

If you test negative and still have symptoms, continue to stay at home and away from other people until your symptoms get better.

Most people recover from COVID-19 without special treatment and can manage mild symptoms at home. Go to COVID-19 Self-Care Guide for more information.

If since the start of your symptoms, you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Fever: higher than 39 degrees for three days
  • Cough: return of cough after being cough free
  • Increasing shortness of breath or shortness of breath at rest
  • Inability to lie down because of difficulty breathing
  • Signs of dehydration such as: passing only a little urine, feeling very lightheaded
  • Chronic health conditions that you are having difficulty managing because of your current illness

Call your family doctor for care. If you don’t have a family doctor, visit Alberta Find a Doctor or call Health Link at 811.

Children

Symptoms that require mandatory isolation for children are different than those for adults.

Children, for the purposes of these legal requirements, include:

  • all children under 18 years of age
  • anyone 18 years and older attending high school.

If the child has any of the following symptoms, not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition:

  • cough
  • fever
  • shortness of breath
  • or loss of sense of smell or taste

They are legally required to isolate for 10 days, or for 5 days if you are fully immunized.

Take an at-home rapid test if one is available for you. If you don’t have access to one, ensure they stay home and away from other people until their symptoms get better . If they test negative and still have symptoms, ensure they continue isolating until their symptoms get better.

Other Symptoms

Adults (18+)

If you have any of the other symptoms of COVID-19 in the list below, it is strongly advised that you stay home and minimize contact with others until your symptoms get better.

  • stuffy nose
  • painful swallowing
  • chills
  • headache
  • muscle or joint ache
  • feeling unwell, fatigue or severe exhaustion
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or unexplained loss of appetite
  • conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Complete the COVID-19 Assessment & Testing to find out if you should be tested for COVID-19 and for more information.

Children

If the child has ONE of:

  • chills;
  • sore throat or painful swallowing;
  • runny nose or congestion;
  • feeling unwell or fatigue;
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
  • unexplained loss of appetite;
  • muscle or joint aches;
  • headache;
  • conjunctivitis (pink eye):
    • The child should stay home and monitor for 24 hours.
    • If their symptom is improving after 24 hours, they can return to school/activities when they feel well enough to go. Testing is not necessary.
    • If the symptom worsens after 24 hours (or if additional symptoms emerge), testing is recommended but not required. Take an at-home rapid test, if you have access to one.
    • The child can return to activities and school when:
      • their symptoms have resolved AND it’s been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started.

If the child has any TWO of:

  • chills;
  • sore throat or painful swallowing;
  • runny nose or congestion;
  • feeling unwell or fatigue;
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
  • unexplained loss of appetite;
  • muscle or joint aches;
  • headache;
  • conjunctivitis (pink eye):
    • The child should stay home.
    • Testing is recommended but not required. Take an at-home rapid test, if they have access to one.
    • The child can attend school/daycare and other public places when their symptoms have resolved AND it’s been 24 hours or more since their symptoms started.

About COVID-19

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illness in humans, ranging from mild common colds to severe illnesses. Others cause illness in animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can then spread from person to person through close contact. Novel coronaviruses are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, a new virus that was first recognized in December 2019.

COVID-19 Spread

COVID-19 is passed from person–to-person through tiny droplets of liquid, spread by coughing, sneezing, talking, laughing and singing. This means that a person would need to have contact with droplets from an infected person or contaminated surfaces, in order to be exposed to COVID-19. Smaller droplets, or aerosols, can spread through the air over longer distances and longer periods of time. The risks of aerosol spread is greater in specific settings such as indoor locations that may be poorly ventilated, crowded, where gatherings are taking place for prolonged periods or where heavy breathing or exertion is occurring.

The time that a person can spread COVID-19 to others is called the infectious period.

COVID-19 vs. Influenza

In some ways, COVID-19 is similar to influenza (also known as the flu):

  • Both COVID-19 and the flu cause respiratory disease. The symptoms can be similar and it can be difficult to tell the difference between influenza and COVID-19 symptoms.

However, there are some key differences between COVID-19 and the flu:

  • The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses.
  • COVID-19 causes severe disease in a higher percentage of cases than seasonal influenza.
  • Because COVID-19 can cause serious illness, it is critical to keep it from spreading by having people follow public health recommendations, including staying home and away from others if symptoms occur.