Skip to main content


Guidance about self-isolation for staff, physicians, paramedics and contractors for PHSA

Page updated: March 22, 2020 5pm

Updated advice: Reduced time for self-isolation following resolution of symptoms

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has issued updated advice about when to return to work following periods of self-isolation due to illness and/or international travel. This advice is supported by B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer. What follows supersedes all previous guidance.

For those employees, physicians and paramedics who are continuing to report to their normal places of work because it has been deemed essential for them to do so to provide direct patient care and/or to support those providing direct patient care, these PHAC guidelines apply to you when returning to work:

Following illness

The time required for self-isolation of cases (confirmed or clinical) where symptoms have resolved has been reduced to 10 days from the onset of symptoms (infectious period).

  • After 10 days, if your temperature is normal and you feel well, you can return to routine activities.
  • Coughing may persist for several weeks, so a cough alone does not mean you need to continue to self-isolate beyond 10 days.
  • On day 10, if you continue to have symptoms other than a cough, please continue self-isolating until symptoms have resolved.
  • Please seek medical care if respiratory symptoms worsen.

Following international travel

The time required for self-isolation of returning travellers or contacts remains at 14 days (incubation period).

  • Returning travellers who develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of return will be considered “Clinical COVID-19” cases and their contacts managed in the same way as laboratory confirmed cases.
  • Health care workers who meet the above description of “essential” are permitted to return to work following international travel provided they are asymptomatic and wear a surgical mask for 14 days following travel.

All of the above advice should be considered in the context of PHSA’s recent directive to support as many employees as possible to work from home. Meaning, if you are an employee who is already working from home, this advice about when to return to the workplace does not apply.

If you have mild respiratory symptoms

Updated advice:

We must take measures to help flatten the curve, and in light of this our updated advice is that we will approach even mild respiratory illness symptoms with an abundance of caution.

Health care workers who develop any kind of respiratory symptoms shouldn’t be at work.

If you develop mild symptoms while you are working, put on a mask, finish what you are doing, and assess whether the symptoms are new and possibly due to a respiratory infection. If so, get tested and go home.


We appreciate that it is allergy season and there could be a number of factors contributing to mild respiratory symptoms. We must balance caution with common sense and a health care worker’s ability to differentiate between symptoms of a respiratory infection versus other causes, such as seasonal allergies.
If you believe you are experiencing mild respiratory symptoms akin to seasonal allergies, it is appropriate to wear a mask and stay at work. If you are unsure about the likely cause of your symptoms, get tested and go home.


To support our staff we’ve made testing more easily available to health care workers and have a 24-hour turnaround on health care worker test results.

Testing sites are available in all regions of the province – including at C&W – and all sites are available to all health care workers, no matter where they work.

To ensure expedited testing, make sure your sample and requisition get labelled as Health Care Worker (label as “HCW”).

SOURCE: Self-Isolation ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © Provincial Health Services Authority. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2020 Provincial Health Services Authority