Islanders: What to do if you think you have COVID-19

It can be difficult to determine if you have COVID-19. Here’s what to do if you think you have it.

COVID-19 requires a professional diagnosis

Coughing into your elbow can help prevent the spread of viruses. (Photo illustration by Ute Grabowsky/Photothek/Getty)

It can be difficult to determine if you have COVID-19. Here's what to do if you think you have it.

COVID-19 is the respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, one of a large family of viruses that in most cases cause only mild symptoms in humans. Many coronaviruses do not infect humans at all. There are two previous coronaviruses that have caused severe illness in humans, SARS in 2002-03, and MERS in 2012.

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11.

Because symptoms of COVID-19 can vary from mild to severe, and because they are similar to other respiratory illnesses, it is not possible to self-diagnose.


The P.E.I. Public Health Office says anyone with these symptoms who has travelled in the last 14 days should be tested.

If you have these symptoms

If your symptoms are not severe, you should not go to the emergency department. This could be at risk vulnerable people who are awaiting treatment for other health problems.

The province has set up two testing centres. To schedule an appointment for a test, call 811. A health professional on the line will interview about your situation and refer you for an appointment if appropriate. You will receive a call with a time and place for the appointment within 24 hours.

It may be a cold or the flu, but even if it isn't COVID-19 you should take steps to prevent spreading it.

Health PEI recommends these prevention measures.

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
  • Stay at home if you have these symptoms.
  • Limit touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Don't share items like drinking glasses and water bottles.
  • Frequently clean surfaces like taps, doorknobs and countertops.

These preventive measures can help stop the spread of disease if you are ill, as well as help you from getting sick in the first place.

If you are otherwise healthy, chances are good you will not develop serious symptoms. A bigger concern is preventing the spread of the disease to other people who may be more vulnerable.

In any case, if you have severe shortness of breath or chest pain or a cough that keeps getting worse, you should seek medical attention. You may not have COVID-19, but if you are developing these symptoms from influenza you may still need the help of a health-care professional.

If you do not have symptoms, but you have questions about COVID-19 or coronavirus, the province has provided an information line. Call 1-800-958-6400, leave a recorded message, and someone will call with a response within 24 hours.

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