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Discharge Instructions for COVID-19 (Suspected or Confirmed )

You have been tested for or diagnosed with COVID-19. It is an infection caused by a new type of coronavirus. COVID-19 will cause cold-like or mild flu symptoms in most. It can cause more severe symptoms like problems breathing in some.

There is no treatment for COVID-19. The body will clear the infection over time. Self-care will help to ease discomfort.

Steps to Take


Rest as needed. Healthy habits may help you feel better. Steps include:

  • Choose healthy foods including fruits and vegetables. Drink water throughout the day.
  • Get plenty of sleep each night.
  • If you smoke, try to quit. It may ease breathing.
  • Avoid alcohol.

Keep Others Healthy

The virus can spread to others. Droplets are released every time you sneeze or cough. The droplets can get into the mouth, nose, or eyes of people near you and lead to infection. To lower the chances of spreading COVID-19 to others:

Stay at home until your doctor has said it is safe to leave. If you tested positive this will mean staying isolated until both of the following are true:

  • At least 7 days have passed since the start of illness.
  • You are free of fever for at least 72 hours without the use of medicine.

During this time:

  • Avoid public areas, events, or transportation. Do not return to work or school until your doctor has said it is safe to do so.
  • Call ahead if you need to go to a medical center. Let them know you may have COVID-19. It will help them guide you where to go. They may also ask you to wear a facemask when you come to the office.
  • If you call for emergency medical services, let them know you may have COVID-19.

While at home:

  • Try to avoid close contact with others. Stay about 6 feet away.
  • If possible, spend most of your time in a separate room from others.
  • Use a face mask if you will be in close contact with others such as sharing a room or vehicle.
  • Have someone wipe down common surfaces in the home. Use household cleaners every day on areas like doorknobs, counters, or sinks.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue. Throw the tissue away right after use. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wash your hands often. Wash them after sneezing or coughing. Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol based hand cleaner can be used if soap and water is not available.
  • Do not prepare food for others. Avoid sharing personal items like forks, spoons, or toothbrushes.
  • Avoid close contact with pets while you are sick. There is no evidence of the virus passing to pets. This is a safety step until more is known about this virus.

Isolation can be frustrating. Social interaction can help. Keep in touch with friends and family through phone and tech options. You can still interact with others in your home, just keep a safe distance of about 6 feet.


Your doctor’s office will check in with you to see if there are any changes in your health. You may be asked to keep track of symptoms to share with them. They will also let you know when you are clear to be in public again.

Problems to Look Out For

Contact your doctor if your recovery is not going as you expect. Get emergency care if you have problems such as:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Nonstop chest pain or pressure
  • Changes in awareness, confusion, or problems waking
  • Lips or face have bluish color
  • Worsening of symptoms

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization


Health Canada

Public Health Agency of Canada


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Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html. Updated February 29, 2020. Accessed April 24, 2020.

COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/covid-19-novel-coronavirus. Updated March 3, 2020. Accessed April 24, 2020.

COVID-19. United States Department of Labor website. Available at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/medicalinformation.html#what_is. Accessed April 24, 2020.

Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). World Health Organization website. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses. Accessed April 24, 2020.

What to Do If You Are Sick With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html. Updated March 1, 2020. Accessed April 24, 2020.

What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) factsheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf. Accessed April 24, 2020.

World Health Organization (WHO) technical documents for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). World Health Organization website. Available at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance. Accessed April 24, 2020.

Last reviewed March 2020 by Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD  Last Updated: 4/24/2020