Potential COVID-19 exposure: what to do

The following information is based on Montreal Public Health guidelines and INSPQ case management and contact tracing guidelines. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, what you will need to do will depend on whether you are fully vaccinated / protected (generally two doses of vaccine) or not.

What do I do if...

 

Fully vaccinated / protected
(generally two doses)

Not fully vaccinated / protected

I have COVID-19 symptoms?
  • Take the COVID-19 symptom self-assessment quiz.
  • If your symptoms are potentially COVID, get tested.
  • Call 514-398-3000 if you were on campus in the 48-hour period before your symptoms started.
  • Self-isolate at home until your results come back.
  • Take the COVID-19 symptom self-assessment quiz.
  • If your symptoms are potentially COVID, get tested.
  • Call 514-398-3000 if you were on campus in the 48-hour period before your symptoms started.
  • Self-isolate at home until your results come back.
My test results for COVID-19 came back positive?
  • Self-isolate at home, and follow the instructions you received with your test result.
  • Call 514-398-3000 if you were on campus in the 48-hour period before your symptoms started, or (if you do not have symptoms) in the 48-hour period before you took your COVID test.
  • Self-isolate at home, and follow the instructions you received with your test result.
  • Call 514-398-3000 if you were on campus in the 48-hour period before your symptoms started, or (if you do not have symptoms) in the 48-hour period before you took your COVID test.
My test results for COVID-19 came back negative?
  • Continue to monitor yourself for symptoms, but you do not need to self-isolate.
  • If you have been informed you are a moderate- or high-risk contact of an infected person, continue your self-isolation until your 10-day quarantine is finished.
  • If you are not a moderate- or high-risk contact, you do not need to self isolate.
I have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and am in the moderate- or high-risk category*?
  • Get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.
  • You do not need to self-isolate if you are fully vaccinated. You should wear a procedural mask indoors, however, for 14 days.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days from the last day you had contact with the positive case. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get tested again.
  • Avoid contact with individuals who may be susceptible to developing serious illness or complications from COVID-19.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.
  • Self-isolate at home for 10 days following your last contact with the person who tested positive.
  • If you take a COVID-19 test and it comes back negative, continue your 10-day isolation.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms for 14 days from the last day you had contact with the positive case. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get tested again.
  • Get a second COVID-19 test 48 hours before you complete your self-isolation.

I have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and am in the low-risk category*?

  • Monitor yourself to watch for symptoms, as you normally would, but you do not need to self-isolate.
  • If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get tested.
  • Monitor yourself to watch for symptoms, as you normally would, but you do not need to self-isolate.
  • If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get tested.
I was in a class where someone tested positive for COVID-19 and I have received notification I am a low-risk contact?
  • Monitor yourself to watch for symptoms, as you normally would, but you do not need to self-isolate.
  • If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get tested.
  • Monitor yourself to watch for symptoms, as you normally would, but you do not need to self-isolate.
  • If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get tested.

I live with someone who has symptoms and is awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test?

  • You do not need to self-isolate.
  • Self-isolate at home and await the results of the test.

I have returned to Canada from outside the country?

  • If you qualify for the fully vaccinated traveler exemption, you do not need to self-isolate.
  • For more information, please consult the Government of Canada website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Definitions of low/medium/high risk contacts and fully vaccinated / protected

What are the definitions of low/medium/high risk contacts?

Montreal Public Health defines three levels of risk, when it comes to contact with someone infected with COVID-19:

High-risk contact

A high-risk contact corresponds generally to a person who has been in sustained physical contact with the person who tested positive without wearing a procedure** mask: for example someone living under the same roof, someone who is an intimate or sexual partner or someone who has had direct contact with infectious biological fluids such as saliva.

Moderate-risk contact

A medium-risk contact is someone who has been in close contact (less than two metres away for 15 minutes**) with a person who tested positive, IF one or both people were not properly wearing*** a procedural mask.

Low-risk contact

A low-risk contact is someone who:

  • Was in close contact (less than two metres away for at least 15 minutes*) with a person who tested positive, but both people properly wore a procedural mask during the entire exposure; OR
  • Remained two metres or more away at all times from the person who tested positive; OR
  • Was less than two metres away, but for less than 15 minutes*

* A procedure mask is also known as a medical mask or surgical mask, and is recognized Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It differs from a cloth mask or face covering.

** The 15 minutes may be continuous or cumulative during a 24-hour period.

*** A mask should fully cover the mouth and nose and be changed when wet, dirty, or damaged; masks also need to be changed after being worn for four hours.

What does “fully-vaccinated / protected” mean in the context of the COVID-19 case management process?

In Quebec, in the context of the management of COVID-19 cases and their contacts, people are considered to be “fully vaccinated /protected” when one of the following situations applies:

  • You have received a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the past seven or more days
  • You have received a dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (outside Québec) in the past 14 or more days
  • You have had COVID-19 more than six months ago and received a dose of vaccine in the past seven or more days
  • You have had COVID-19 in the past six months

NOTE: in the context of vaccine passports, only the first two bullets are considered as fully vaccinated.

Potential COVID-19 Exposure

Will I be notified if I come in contact with a low-risk COVID-19 case?

The standard protocol from Public Health is not to notify low-risk contacts. If you are a low-risk contact, you will only be notified if you are registered in the same class as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Will I be notified if I come in contact with a medium/high risk COVID-19 case?

Yes. If you fall in the category of a moderate/high risk contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19, McGill’s Case Management team will send you, and all moderate/high risk contacts, an email with your required actions.

What measures will I have to take if I am exposed to a positive COVID-19 case while on campus?

This will depend on your assessed risk (low/moderate/high) as well as your protection status (fully vaccinated/protected or not fully vaccinated/protected). Please refer to the table here to determine your risk level and required actions.

How at risk am I of developing COVID-19 if I come in contact with a positive case?

Your level of risk is assessed based on length of time of the contact, whether physical distancing of 2m was maintained, and whether procedural masks were worn by both you and the positive individual. See the definitions of risk levels, above.

Am I at risk of contracting COVID-19 while passing through congested spaces – including stairwells and hallways?

Based on public health definitions, passing through a congested space is considered low-risk because you are in contact with people for a short period of time (less than 15 minutes). At McGill, procedural masks are required indoors, which provides an extra layer of protection.

Of course, being fully vaccinated dramatically reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19, even with exposure to the Delta variant.

If I have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, will I find out who it is?

No. Due to privacy laws, this information will remain confidential.

Can I inform others if someone tells me they are COVID-19 positive?

No. You cannot disclose the identity or any information that would allow others to identify this person.

Why is the University asking for my vaccination status for contact tracing purposes? I thought this was private medical information.

Montreal Public Health has confirmed that McGill has a mandated role to conduct case management for the community and can ask about vaccination status in order to facilitate the case management process.

Vaccination information will not be used for any other purposes and will remain confidential.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and have been on campus

What should I do if I am experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?

Get tested and self-isolate at home until your results come back. Call 514-398-3000 if you were on campus (including at Residences or Athletics & Recreation) in the 48-hour period before your symptoms started.

What should I do if I test positive for COVID-19 and have been on campus?

If you test positive for COVID-19 and you have been on-campus (including at Residences or Athletics & Recreation) in the 48 hours prior to your symptoms developing or (if you don’t have symptoms), in the 48 hours prior to your test, you must report to COVID-19 Case Management Group at 514-398-3000. The Case Management Group will begin the process of disinfection and contact tracing. These are important safety measures to protect others in our community, which is why we rely on you to report this.

Can I attend classes online if I need to self-isolate?

For any students who will be required to miss class time, you can apply for short-term academic accommodations. You must submit the request through the COVID-19 Academic Considerations Request Form (on Minerva in the Personal menu). A staff member from the university will follow-up directly with you.

What should I do if I have to isolate and cannot come to work?

For work accommodations, you must advise your immediate supervisor and contact Human Resources’ Disability Management at disability.hr [at] mcgill.ca

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