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What is Self-Isolation and How Do I Self-Isolate?

Self-isolation is when you have been instructed to separate yourself from others, with the purpose of preventing the spread of the virus, including those within your home. If you are ill, you should be separated from others in your household to the greatest extent possible.

Even if you do not have symptoms, it is recommended to self-isolate for 14 days if:

  1. You have travelled anywhere outside of Canada (including the United States of America).

  2. You live with, provided care for, or spent extensive time with someone who has:

  3. Tested positive for COVID-19, OR is suspected to have COVID-19, OR who has respiratory symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) that started within 14 days of travel outside of Canada.

Remember to always follow the advice that you have received from your health care provider. If you have questions, or you start to feel worse, contact your health care provider, Telehealth (1-866-797-0000) or your local public health unit. You can also access up to date information on COVID-19 on the Ontario Ministry of Health’s website:

The self-isolation instructions vary for each person’s situation. Which one of the following statements best describes your situation?

Have you been instructed to stay home by Ontario Public Health or your health care provider?

  1. Stay home:

  2. Do not use public transportation, taxis or rideshares.

  3. Do not go to work, school or other public places.

  4. Your health care provider or Ottawa Public Health will tell you when you no longer need to self-isolate.

  5. Limit the number of visitors in your home:

  6. Only have visitors who you must see and keep visits short.

  7. Keep away from seniors and people with chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, lung problems, weakened immune system)

  8. Avoid contact with others:

  9. Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one.

  10. Make sure that any shared rooms have good airflow (e.g., open windows).

  11. Keep distance:

  12. If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two meters from others and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.

  13. If you cannot wear a mask, people should wear a mask when they are in the same room as you.

  14. Cover your coughs and sneezes:

  15. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

  16. Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hand.

  17. Throw used tissues in a lined wastebasket and wash your hands. Lining the wastebasket with a plastic bag makes waste disposal easier and safer.

  18. Wash your hands after emptying the wastebasket .

  19. Wash your hands:

  20. Wash your hands often with soap and water.

  21. Dry your hands with a paper towel, or with your own cloth towel that no one else shares.

  22. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

  23. Wear a mask over your nose and mouth:

  24. Wear a mask if you must leave your house to see a health care provider.

  25. Wear a mask when you are within two metres of other people.

Household cleaning and disinfection

  1. Clean all “high-touch” areas such as counters, toilets, sink tap handles, tabletops, doorknobs, TV remotes, phones, and bedside tables daily using regular household cleaners.

  2. Clean more often if surfaces become visibly soiled.

  3. Clean any surfaces than may have blood, body fluids and/or secretions on them.

  4. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning surfaces.

  5. Use a diluted bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach to 4 cups of water) or household disinfectant.

  6. Dishes and eating utensils should be cleaned with dish soap and hot water after each use.

  7. Use of a dishwasher with a drying cycle also provides a sufficient level of cleaning.


  1. Clothing and bedclothes can be cleaned using regular laundry soap and water and do not require separation from other household laundry.

  2. If clothing or bedding have blood, body fluids and/or secretions, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items, remove gloves and wash hands immediately afterwards.

Waste management

  1. All waste generated can be bagged in a regular plastic bag and disposed of in regular household waste.

Have you recently travelled anywhere outside of Canada (including the US)?

  1. If you need to return home from the airport via taxi or ride-share, be sure to keep the windows down.

  2. If you were out of country when the latest travel guidelines went into effect and need to get supplies for your household, try to go during off-peak hours and do your best to remain 1-2 metres (3-6 feet) away from others.

  3. Follow all other recommendations listed above.

Has a health care provider instructed you to isolate becayse you have been in contact with someone who currently has COVID-19 or is being tested?

  1. Self isolate for 14 days from last known exposure. If symptoms develop, follow all recommendations listed above.

If you have not been instructed to self-isolate but would like to as a precaution, continue with regular good hygiene practices. To reduce the spread of germs including the flu and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) it is recommended that you:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer;

  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you have just washed your hands with soap;

  3. Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hand;

  4. If possible, stay home if you are sick;

  5. Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick ;

  6. It is still recommended to get your flu shot if you haven’t already as the flu virus is still circulating in the community.

Remember to Take Care of Yourself

  1. It’s OK to NOT be OK. Please know that help is available and you are encouraged to reach out to a loved one during this time or to the Hope for Wellness Help Line toll-free at 1-855-242-3310, it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer counselling and crisis intervention. Chat is available online as well at

  2. Stay healthy by eating well, drinking lots of fluids, staying active (if well), and trying to get enough rest and sleep. A healthy immune system is better equipped to fight an infection.

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