Think you have COVID? Here’s how to be sure

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Delta? Omicron? Regular flu? Just a cold? Who knows anymore.

It’s hard to keep up with changing COVID-19 symptoms as new variants emerge. If you’re not feeling well and suspect that it’s COVID, follow these steps:

  1. Recognize the symptoms

    Currently, the most commonly experienced symptoms of COVID-19 are:

    • sore throat
    • runny nose
    • sneezing
    • new or worsening cough
    • fatigue
    • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • temperature equal to more than 38°C

    Doctors are also seeing gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain in patients with Omicron. But remember that you don’t have to experience all of these symptoms before you consult a doctor or take a test. Doctors advise getting a rapid test even if symptoms are manageable especially if you are immunocompromised, have multiple medical conditions, or a senior.

  2. Get a test

    You won’t know it’s COVID for sure unless you get tested. It’s a good thing that you now have the option of doing it at home using Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs). These kits are easy to use and produce a result after 10-20 minutes. You can get one 5 test pack, or two packs per household for free.

    • Where to get a test kit
      Test kits are available at provincial testing sites, Winnipeg public libraries (soon in rural libraries as well), and some branches of retail stores like Co-Op, Loblaw/Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart, and Safeway/Sobeys (call ahead to ask if they have stocks on hand).
    • How to do the test
      Follow the manufacturer’s instructions included in the box to complete the test.

      To get an idea how the test is done, watch the following instructional videos done in multiple languages (click on the YouTube link below to see the complete playlist). It is available in Amharic, Akan, Arabic, Filipino, Farsi, Mandarin, Karen, Kurdish, and Spanish via Youtube.

      COVID-19 Rapid Test (Spanish), Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba.


    • What if I don’t want to do a self-test?
      You can go to a testing site to get a PCR test. Go to Find a Testing Location to see which site is nearest you and to know what time they are open. You don’t have to make an appointment. Only pre-operative patients can continue to make appointments.
  3. Isolate

    It would be wise to isolate as you wait for results. Inform members of your household and advise them to self-monitor their health for COVID-19 for 14 days following exposure.

    If your RAT is negative but you have symptoms, take the test again after 24 hours. Continue to isolate as you can still be contagious. If the repeat test is negative, do the test again if you still have access to another RAT.

  4. If you tested positive:

    • Continue to isolate for 5 days after your symptoms started, until you have no fever and other symptoms have improved over the past 24 hours. Follow proper isolation procedures to quickly recover and prevent spreading the virus to others.
    • If you are high-risk (elderly, immunocompromised or have multiple medical conditions), you may be eligible for an antiviral treatment. Immediate referral is important so talk to your health care provider or call Health Links – Info Santé (204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257) to confirm your eligibility.
    • Monitor your health for any new or worsening symptoms, including fever, cough, headache or breathing difficulties.
  5. Ask for help if symptoms worsen

    Call Health Links – Info Santé if you start to feel worse during your isolation period. Call 911 if your symptoms are severe. This includes:

    • new or severe chest pain
    • trouble breathing
    • bluish lips or face
    • sudden confusion
    • symptoms of stroke such as leg or arm weakness, numbness, slurred speech or facial drooping.

    It is important to seek medical attention early to get the care you need.

Sources: Testing COVID-19, Manitoba government; Delta vs. Omicron, ProtectMB; Is it COVID or a cold? How to know as Omicron cases rise, Stephanie Hogan, CBC; COVID-19 variants of concern,; and MANSO Newsletter. Accessed April 7, 2022.

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Community Resources

A fourth COVID-19 vaccine (or second booster) is now available for the following groups:

  • residents of personal care homes and elderly people living in congregate living sites (such as supportive housing and assisted living) with no age limit;
  • people aged 70 and older living in the community; and
  • First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50 or older, regardless of where they live.

More information about the second booster may be found here: COVID-19 Vaccine eligibility criteria.

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