A Practical Guide to Self-Isolation

By now you’ve probably heard the advice from experts that any Nova Scotian who has travelled outside of the province must self-isolate for 14 days when they return. But what exactly does self-isolation mean? And why does it matter so much?

In a nutshell, self-isolation means you go nowhere and see no one. That might sound extreme, but it’s the best way to slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

It’s about making sure our hospitals can not only take care of the Nova Scotians who will get seriously sick from COVID-19, but also the Nova Scotians who will still need care for regular medical emergencies during this pandemic.

Who needs to self-isolate for 14 days?

  • Anyone who has travelled outside of Nova Scotia. It doesn’t matter where you went or if you feel fine—you still must self-isolate.
  • You live with, provided care for, or spent a lot of time with someone who has 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 travelling outside of Nova Scotia.
  • Many people most at risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 are deciding on their own to self-isolate as a precaution.

How do you self-isolate?

  • arrange for someone to pick up groceries, medications and other supplies and leave them outside your door. Don’t hand items over in person.
  • you can order food online from most grocery stores and have it delivered to your door. Again—don’t hand items over in person.
  • In some smaller communities, local organizations may be able to help with food deliveries. Watch for news from your local officials and organizations.
  • if you like, put a sign on your door letting people know you’re self-isolating and can’t answer the door. Instruct people to leave items outside.
  • have a buddy in your neighbourhood you can text, email or call regularly, especially if you’re self-isolating solo.
  • don’t go outside to run errands, don’t take the bus or ferry and say no to visitors. The only time you should leave is to go to a pre-arranged medical appointment.
  • if you aren’t having symptoms and aren’t self-isolating because you came in direct contact with someone who has COVID-19, you may go outside in your backyard or for a short walk. Stay two metres (six feet) away from people.
  • pay attention to how you feel. If you start to have a fever of 38°C or higher and/or you start having a new cough, read this online questionnaire to see if you should call 811.
  • if you are unwell or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, separate yourself from others in your household as much as possible (wash your hands often, disinfect high-touch surfaces like counters and taps, use a separate room with a separate bathroom, if you can, use separate dishes and cutlery, and have meals left outside your door).
  • if you live in shared accommodations, leave your room only when necessary. Avoid using the kitchen or bathroom when others are there. Wash your hands often, dispose used tissues in a plastic bag and tie it up when it’s full, and wash your hands afterwards.
  • if you have COVID-19 and need to leave your house for a medical appointment, speak with your health-care provider first.

Why does it matter?

For weeks, COVID-19 has been making thousands of people sick around the world. It’s now reached every province in Canada. If you’ve travelled abroad, there’s a chance you might have come in contact with someone who has the virus. Being in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 in airports and on airplanes is one of the ways this virus spreads.

We all have a role to play

Self-isolating keeps you from infecting people around you, especially people most at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying if they get COVID-19: people who are over age 65, and anyone with a weak immune system or conditions like lung disease, diabetes, cancer and asthma. With this disease, everyone is at risk.

Ultimately, we need to make sure that our health-care system can handle all the sick people who will need urgent medical care during this pandemic. We also need to protect health-care providers from getting sick, so that they can be there to help us.

If you have general questions about COVID-19, visit the provincial coronavirus info hub or call the toll-free federal info line at 1-833-784-4397.

More details on self-isolation
COVID-19-related restrictions in Nova Scotia

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