Symptoms, About, Spread, Risks

COVID-19

Symptoms for COVID-19 are similar to those for influenza or other respiratory illnesses. See below for symptoms for adults, children and everyone.

Adults

Anyone over the age of 18 who has the following symptoms are legally required to isolate and should be tested for COVID-19.

If you are not tested for COVID-19, you MUST isolate for 10 days following the start of these symptoms and until you are feeling better (whichever is longer). If you are tested, further instructions are available at ahs.ca/results based on your test results.

People with other symptoms are also recommended to be tested. These include:

If you have these symptoms, it is strongly advised that you stay home and minimize contact with others until you are feeling better. Complete the online COVID-19 Self-Assessment to book a COVID-19 test.

Children

Symptoms of runny nose and sore throat have been removed from the mandatory isolation checklist for Albertans under 18, whether they are attending classes, daycare or recreational activities, as well as individuals 18 years and over attending high school.

For a child with no known exposures to COVID-19 or international travel in the past 14 days:

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:

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:

The child with any symptoms should not visit a congregate living or acute care facility for 10 days from when symptom(s) started or until they go away (whichever is longer), unless they receive a negative COVID-19 test result and are feeling better.

Everyone

Everyone (including those under 18 years of age) in mandatory isolation and in need of COVID-19 testing, or critical care for pre-existing medical conditions or emergency care, should carefully follow the rules in the exemption orders.

If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and advise them that you may have COVID-19. Do not visit a hospital, doctor’s office, lab or healthcare facility for non-urgent medical needs. Consult Health Link 811if you have questions.

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 vs. Influenza

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

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

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.

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

For a person with COVID-19 who has symptoms, the infectious period is 48 hours before the start of symptoms until 10 days after the start of their symptoms. For some people this may be longer. See Isolation and Quarantine for more information.

For a person with COVID-19 who had no symptoms when they were tested, the infectious period is 48 hours before they had their test done, to 10 days after the date of their test (if they remain symptom free). If the person develops symptoms after having their test, they are infectious to others for the duration of their symptoms. For most people, this is until 10 days after the start of their symptoms. See Isolation and Quarantine for more information.

Risk

A higher risk of COVID-19 infection exists for people who develop a fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat or runny nose, or loss of sense of taste and smell, AND who also meet any of the criteria below.

In the 14 days before illness onset, they:

Travelled to anywhere outside of Canada;

OR

Had close contact* with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19;

OR

Had close contact* with a person with acute respiratory illness who has travelled anywhere outside of Canada within 14 days prior to illness onset;

OR

Had laboratory exposure to biological material (e.g. primary clinical specimens, virus culture isolates) known to contain COVID-19 virus.

Anyone meeting these criteria must stay home and avoid contact with others. This applies regardless of whether or not you have been immunized for COVID-19. See Isolation and Quarantine for more information.

*A close contact is anyone who, during the infectious period:

Anyone who falls into any of the above categories is considered a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19. Wearing a non-medical mask is not sufficient to exempt you from being considered a close contact

Consistent and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by regulated health care professionals must be assessed to determine if the individual had adequate protection from a potential COVID-19 exposure.

Immunized close contacts may have different quarantine requirements. See Quarantine for Immunized Close Contacts for more information.

Learn more: Close Contacts