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I was named as a COVID-19 Contact. What do I need to know?

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About COVID-19

  • COVID-19 is caused by a virus which belongs to a large family of viruses called coronaviruses.
    • It is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been found in humans until now.
    • Most people with COVID-19 only get mild illness (like the common cold) but some get more severe illness (like pneumonia). Elders or people who have other medical conditions (like high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) are at higher risk of developing serious illness. 
    • COVID-19 causes infections of the nose, throat and lungs and you can spread it to others through:
  • droplets made when you cough, sneeze, sing or laugh
  • having close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

I was named as a contact to COVID-19. What does this mean?

  • Someone who tested positive for COVID-19 provided your name to the nurse as being a close contact. For confidentiality reasons, the nurse cannot tell you who named you.
  • The nurse follows up with contacts to ensure they are not sick, to offer testing for COVID-19, advise them of the mandatory requirement to Quarantine and advise them what to do if they become sick. Testing for COVID-19 is strongly recommended for all contacts, even if no symptoms are present. 


The nurse recommended I be tested for COVID-19. What does this mean?

The nurse will take a swab from either your mouth or your nose, which is sent to the lab for testing:

  • a negative result means the virus was not detected in your body on the day you were tested
    • a positive results means the virus was detected in your body and you have COVID-19: this means that you are a case of COVID-19 and additional follow up for you and your contacts will be required.  

All contacts are under a Public Health Order to Quarantine, regardless of being tested or their test results. What does this mean?

  • Anyone in Alberta who has been named as a contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 is under amandatory Public Health Order to Quarantinefor the time it takes for symptoms to develop. Quarantine is an important way to ensure you don’t pass COVID-19 on to others.
  • You must quarantine for a full 14 days and possibly longer if you develop symptoms, have ongoing exposure to a person who tested positive, or have an exposure to someone else who has a positive COVID-19 test result. The nurse will check in with you during your quarantine period and tell you when your last day of quarantine will be.


How do I Quarantine?

Quarantine orders start the moment you are told you are a contact. You must stay at home for the whole time you are on quarantine (you can spend time outside only if you are by yourself and in your own yard).


  • leave to get groceries, go to the bank or do other errands or shopping
  • go to work or school
  • visit your friends or neighbours
  • have visitors to your home (supplies can be dropped off at the door without entry)
  • attend social events or hang out with your friends
  • go to non-urgent appointments (check with the nurse if you are unsure)
If you must travel for essential medical reasons, call the place ahead of time and tell them you are in quarantine because you are a contact to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. They may give you special instructions to follow.  

While on quarantine:

  • Follow your quarantine order.
  • Have a room (like a bedroom) just for you; stay in this room as much as possible.
  • Use your own bathroom if there is more than one in the house (if not, clean and disinfected after each use). 
  • Practice ‘physical distancing’ (stay at least 6 feet or 2 metres away from others).
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or tissue; throw tissues into the garbage immediately after use.
  • Wash your hands often with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds and always after coughing, sneezing, using the bathroom, blowing your nose, or rubbing your eyes.
  • Put all garbage into a plastic lined garbage container. Dispose with other household garbage.
  • Put all laundry into a container with a plastic liner (don’t shake).
  • Do not share items like toothbrushes, cigarettes, cups, utensils, towels, facecloths, remote controls or phones.
  • Pets should not go between you and other family members.
  • Have others in the house:
    • bring things to you (like meals or more supplies) and leave them at the door without entering, so you don’t have to leave your room;
    • clean and disinfect often; at least once a day clean ‘high-touch’/shared surfaces (doorknobs, taps, toilets, fridge handles, phones, TV remotes, salt/pepper shakers) with household disinfectants or diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water);
    • prepare meals and provide care to others; and
    • do your laundry; wash with other household laundry with regular laundry soap and hot water and dry completely.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms are similar to what you may get with influenza or other respiratory illnesses.

Most common: fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing.

Less common: chills, painful swallowing, headache, joint and muscle aches, tiredness (mild or severe), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, not feeling hungry, loss of sense of smell or taste and/or pink eye.

If you do not have any symptoms but later develop some, let the nurse know. You may need to be tested or re-tested for COVID-19.

How do I take care of myself at home if I have or develop symptoms?

There is no cure or treatment for COVID-19 but most people recover at home without needing to go to the hospital. The following may help you have relief from symptoms:

  • Over-the-counter cold, flu and cough medications may relieve some symptoms (just as they do with a common cold). Take only as directed.
    • Drink plenty of fluids like water and fruit juice and eat soups to replace fluids you lose from fevers.
    • Humidifiers or moist air from the shower or a sink filled with hot water can help clear a stuffy nose. Elevating your head with pillows can help if coughing or nasal congestion keeps you awake.

Is there support available if I need it during my quarantine?

Following the quarantine order is not easy but it is important to keep your family, friends and community safe and healthy.  Ask the nurse about supports that are available and how you can access them.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact your Community Health Team.

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