Nova Scotia COVID-19: Symptoms for Testing Updated (09/04/2020)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): symptoms and testingBeginning on September 4, 2020, the list of symptoms being screened for COVID-19 is being updated to reflect epidemiology in Nova Scotia:

Symptoms of COVID-19

Watch for symptoms. Symptoms can vary from person to person and in different age groups. Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever (chills, sweats)
  • new or worsening cough
  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • shortness of breath

The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, can lead to death. Current information suggests most people don't experience severe illness or need to be hospitalized.

When to call 811

If you have symptoms

Call 811 if you’re experiencing or have experienced any of the following symptoms in the past 48 hours:

  • fever or cough (new or worsening)
  • 2 or more symptoms including sore throat, runny nose, headache or shortness of breath (new or worsening)

If you have any other symptoms that concern you, call 811 for assessment by a nurse.

If you think you've been exposed to COVID-19

Call 811 for assessment by a nurse if you think you've been exposed to COVID-19.


Nova Scotia Health Authority has established COVID-19 assessment centres. If you need in-person assessment, 811 will refer you to a centre (don't go to a COVID-19 assessment centre unless 811 referred you).

After testing, you’re legally required to self-isolate for 14 days if you:

  • are waiting for your COVID-19 test results
  • have tested positive for COVID-19
  • have tested negative for COVID-19, but had close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19

University and NSCC students

Students travelling into Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada to attend university or NSCC must get tested for COVID-19 while they’re self-isolating. Learn more: post-secondary education requirements..

How to self-isolate

Self-isolating means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Check the self-isolation requirements to find out when you need to self-isolate, even if you don't have symptoms.

If you need to self-isolate:

  • avoid work, school or other public areas
  • limit contact with people you live with
  • use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if you can
  • take and record your temperature daily and avoid fever reducing medications (like acetaminophen and ibuprofen)
  • have groceries and other supplies delivered
  • avoid anyone with chronic conditions or a compromised immune system, and older adults
  • don't have visitors to your home
  • don't use public transit or taxis
  • stay home (you can go on your deck or balcony or in your yard, but you need to avoid contact with other people)
  • call 811 for assessment if you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptomsexperiencing COVID-19 symptoms

When you’re in your home:

  • keep shared spaces (like kitchens and bathrooms) clean and well ventilated
  • use soap and water to clean dishes and utensils after each use
  • clean door handles, light switches, railings, remotes and other high-touch areas daily
  • clean your home and household items with store bought disinfectant or diluted bleach solution—5 mL of bleach per 250 mL of water, or 20mL per litre
  • wash clothes and linens using your regular laundry soap and water (60-90°C)
  • don't share personal items, like toothbrushes, clothing, towels or drinks
  • use disposable gloves and protective clothing (like plastic aprons) when cleaning anything soiled with bodily fluids, if available

If you don’t have symptoms (asymptomatic)

If you’re legally required to self isolate and don’t have symptoms, you still need to self-isolate. If you have a low risk of exposure because of where you’ve been and that you’ve followed public health directives, you can have contact with other people in your household while you’re self-isolating at home.

Federal support for self-isolating

The Government of Canada has additional resources about how to self isolate and how to care for someone with COVID-19.

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