Symptoms of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)


Even if you think you only have a common cold or flu, it's important to follow the guidance related to COVID-19. Since they are different viruses, it's possible to be infected with more than one at the same time.

Self-isolate at home if you have any of the following symptoms that are new or getting worse, even if you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or previously tested positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Fever / chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decrease or loss of taste or smell
  • Two or more of:
    • Fatigue, lethargy, or malaise (general feeling of being unwell, lack of energy, extreme tiredness)
    • Myalgias (muscle aches or pain)
    • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
    • Sore throat (painful swallowing or difficulty swallowing)
    • Runny or stuff nose
    • Headache

Less common COVID-19 symptoms include the following. You should stay home until symptoms are improving.

  • Abdominal pain that is persistent or ongoing (not related to other known causes or conditions, for example menstrual cramps or gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye, not related to other known causes or conditions, for example recurrent styes)
  • For young children: decreased or lack of appetite

Niagara Region Public Health is reviewing updated measures and guidelines from the Ontario government. Some of the information below may change due to these updates. For more information, review guidance on testing and self-isolation.

Screening tools

The screening tools for school / child care from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health include just a shortened list of symptoms that are most commonly associated with COVID-19.

Individuals are still expected to stay home from school / child care if they have any of the above symptoms of illness, even if they're not listed on the school / child care screening tools. See frequently asked questions below for more details or watch COVID-19 in Niagara: Should I stay home from school or other activities if I'm not feeling well?

If you have questions about COVID-19, contact our COVID-19 Info-Line at 905-688-8248, press 7.

Frequently asked questions about school and child care

Some of the guidance and recommendations may be different for those who are fully vaccinated and those who are not. Learn who is fully vaccinated.

  • What do I do when my child has COVID-19 symptoms?

    If a child has any of the following symptoms, they are not allowed to attend school, regardless of vaccination status:

    • New cough or a cough that is getting worse
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite
    • Fever and / or chills
    • Decrease or loss of taste or smell

    These children should self-isolate immediately and either book a COVID-19 test at a Niagara Health COVID-19 Assessment Centre or contact their health care provider for an assessment.

    If a child has any of these symptoms:

    • Runny or stuffy / congested nose
    • Sore throat
    • Feeling unwell for an unknown reason
    • Unusual level of fatigue (feeling weak, tired, exhausted)

    They should remain home from school until their symptoms have resolved or are improving for 24 hours. A COVID-19 test is recommended before returning to school.

  • What is the guidance for those who recently got vaccinated against COVID-19 and develop new and mild symptoms?

    Similar to other vaccines, some people may develop temporary, mild side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. These side effects are normal and usually mean the vaccine is working to give you protection.

    If an individual develops any of the following new and mild symptoms within 48 hours of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, they may continue to attend school / child care as long as they wear a medical grade mask:

    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle ache
    • Joint pain

    If the symptoms persist longer than 48 hours, the individual must isolate immediately and get tested.

    If an individual has any other symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, even if they are mild, they are to isolate immediately and get tested.

    This guidance applies to both school faculty and students after getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • If one of my children needs to be tested for COVID-19, do other members of my household need to self-isolate?

    If a test is recommended by a health care provider for a symptomatic child, or a decision is made to get tested at an assessment centre, all household members who are not fully vaccinated are to self-isolate, until the test results are back. If the test is negative, household members can leave self-isolation.

    Household members don't need to self-isolate if:

    • They are fully vaccinated and are not showing symptoms
    • They previously tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days and have since been cleared and are not showing symptoms

    If a child in a home is a high-risk contact from someone who tested positive, other children in the home can continue to attend school, as long as all household member remain symptom free.

  • My symptomatic child was assessed by a health care provider and COVID-19 has been ruled out, OR my child has tested negative for COVID-19. When can they return to school / child care?

    Your child can return to school / child care when all of the following are met:

    • They have been free of fever for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication AND
    • They have been free of vomiting or diarrhea for 48 hours AND
    • Other symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours AND
    • They have not been directed to self-isolate AND
    • They have had no contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19

    If your child's symptoms persist or get worse, they should continue to stay home from school / child care. A repeat COVID-19 test should be considered.

    If a health care provider has told you that the symptoms are related to a chronic or pre-existing condition, such as allergies, post-nasal drip runny nose, migraines, asthma, your child can return to school / child care once they feel well enough, without waiting for symptoms to go away.

    A note from your health care provider or proof of a negative test isn't required for your child to return to school / child care. Parent / guardian confirmation is sufficient.

  • What if I choose to not have my child assessed by a health care provider and not tested for COVID-19?

    If testing for COVID-19 was declined for any reason and a health care provider did not assess your child, we must assume the child has COVID-19. The child is to self-isolate for 10 days from the day of their symptom onset (away from household members, when possible).

    If self-isolation away from household members isn't possible, household members are to remain in self-isolation for the duration of the child’s illness AND then an additional 10 days from the last interaction with the symptomatic child.

    Household members don't need to self-isolate if:

    • They are fully vaccinated and are not showing symptoms
    • They previously tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days and have since been cleared and are not showing symptoms

    If household members become symptomatic, they should consult their health care provider and / or go for testing, even if they are fully vaccinated or were previously positive for COVID-19.

  • What do I do if my child tests positive for COVID-19?

    Your child should stay in self-isolation. Niagara Region Public Health will provide further direction and support to confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and their high-risk contacts. We will contact you. Isolate immediately.

    See instructions for cases and high-risk contacts.

    If your child tests positive on a rapid antigen test, you must book a follow-up test at a Niagara Health COVID-19 Assessment Centre for your child to confirm the positive COVID-19 result within 48 hours.

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