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Common Questions

Find answers to some of the most common questions about COVID-19.

What you need to know

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found mostly in animals. In humans, they can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The disease caused by this new coronavirus has been named COVID-19. The virus that causes COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV-2. 

COVID-19 was first identified in late 2019. It was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020.

B.C. has declared a state of emergency and a public health emergency. Find the latest information about confirmed cases in B.C. and the surveillance report on our website. You can find the latest press statements and videos of the press briefings on the BC Gov News website.

‎In B.C., we all must follow Provincial Health Officer (PHO) orders. In a Provincial State of Emergency, the PHO can make orders as needed. 

British Columbians are being asked to take action to slow the spread of COVID-19. New orders put in place on November 19 are in effect until December 7 realate to:

  • Social gatherings and events
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Athletic activities
  • Mask requirements
  • Travel advisory
  • Enforcement
More details about the orders can be found on the Province of BC website.

How it spreads

‎Coronavirus is spread from an infected person through:

  • Droplets spread when a person coughs or sneezes
  • It can be spread by touch if a person has used their hands to cover their mouth or nose when they cough or sneeze.
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
Droplet Contact: Some diseases can be transferred by infected droplets contacting surfaces of the eye, nose, or mouth. For example, large droplets that may be visible to the naked eye are generated when a person sneezes or coughs. These droplets typically spread only one to two metres and quickly fall to the ground. Influenza and SARS are two examples of diseases capable of being transmitted by droplet contact. Currently, health experts believe that coronavirus can also be transmitted in this way.

Airborne transmission: This occurs when much smaller evaporated droplets or dust particles containing the microorganism float in the air for long periods of time. Transmission occurs when others breathe the microorganism into their throat or lungs. Examples of diseases capable of airborne transmission include measles, chickenpox and tuberculosis. Currently, health experts believe that coronavirus cannot be transmitted through airborne transmission.
There have been instances of transmission before the person became sick or when a person's symptoms were so mild that they did not know they were sick. However, it is unclear if this contributes to significant spread of the virus in the population. Most people become ill from being in close contact with someone who shows symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, therefore transmitting the virus through droplets. We continuously review the evidence and update information regularly.
The risk of COVID-19 transmission by cash and documents is low and is expected to be similar to other common surfaces such as doorknobs and handrails. 
 
It is safe to handle cash and documents. However, it would be advisable to wash your hands frequently, and always before eating, after using the washroom, and before touching your face. 
 
Refusing cash could put an undue burden on people who depend on cash as a means of payment. 
An outbreak is declared when a certain number of people who share a common space are diagnosed with COVID-19 within a 14-day period. In some places, it only takes a single person getting COVID-19 for an outbreak to be declared. This is true for places where people are more likely to get very sick OR there are people at high risk of passing it on to people who might get very sick, such as in long-term care facilities. Usually a Medical Health Officer will declare an outbreak so that specific actions can be taken to prevent further spread of the disease.

A COVID-19 outbreak is generally considered over when 28 days (two full incubation periods) have passed from the last date a person was exposed to the virus, and no new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed. A Medical Health Officer may increase or decrease the length of time needed to declare an outbreak over.

‎The risk of spreading COVID-19 in enclosed air spaces is due to poor ventilation, rather than air conditioners. If the space is adequately ventilated with fresh air, the air conditioning becomes less of a risk factor. All mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems should be checked to ensure they are working properly. Use of portable air conditioners in unventilated spaces with doors and windows closed should be avoided. When using air conditioners and fans in ventilated spaces, air should be moved from higher places to lower places whenever possible instead of having strong airflow at breathing height. For more information, visit WorkSafeBC’s FAQ:

https://www.worksafebc.com/en/resources/about-us/covid-19/general-ventilation-and-air-circulation-covid-19-faq?lang=en

The main way that COVID-19 is spread is from person-to-person. You may also be able to get COVID-19 from touching a surface that has the virus and then touching your face without washing your hands.

 

So far, only a few studies have been done on the presence of COVID-19 virus on surfaces. These studies focused on how long the virus lasts on different materials rather than if the virus is still infectious. Even though a virus may be on a surface, it does not always mean it's infectious.

 

The research shows that the virus lasts longer on smoother surfaces like plastic and glass compared to porous materials like cloth or paper. The virus may also last longer at lower temperatures, below 4 degrees C, compared to room temperature. This research used special techniques in laboratory settings to examine how long the virus can last, so the results of these studies may not reflect the behavior of the virus in everyday life.

 

Regular cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces can prevent the spread of COVID-19. To learn more, visit the cleaning and disinfecting page



Protective measures against COVID-19

In addition to physical distancing, the most important thing you can do to prevent infection is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. To help reduce your risk of infection:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Using soap and water is the single most effective and preferred way of reducing the spread of infection.
  • If a sink is not available, alcohol based hand rubs (ABHR) can be used to clean your hands as long as they are not visibly soiled. If they are visibly soiled, use a wipe and then ABHR to effectively clean them.
  • Do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Do not share food, drinks, utensils, etc.
  • Facemasks can be used as an additional layer to preventing the spread of COVID-19 by containing a person's droplets. Please visit the Masks page for up-to-date information.
If you are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick and avoid close contact with others in your home if possible.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Wash your hands.
  • Use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool or visit the testing page to help determine if you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19.

‎Physical distancing is limiting close contact with other people to slow the spread of an infectious disease. An example of physical distancing is keeping about two meters (six feet) or the length of a queen-sized bed apart from others. Physical distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. Even though we are not sick, we need to make changes to our everyday routines to stop the spread of germs between people.

There are many ways to practice physical distancing:  
  • Stay home as much as possible 
  • Use technology to keep in touch with friends and family 
  • Host virtual play dates for your kids 
  • Use food delivery services or online shopping
  • Exercise at home or outside alone
  • Work from home and conduct virtual meetings
In public
  • Keep about two meters (six feet) or the length of a queen-sized bed apart when possible
  • Keep your hands at your sides
  • Greet others with a wave instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug
  • Shop or take public transportation during off-peak hours when possible
  • Avoid crowded places and all in-person gatherings of any size are strongly discouraged.
  • Limit contact with people at higher risk of getting sick (e.g. older adults and those in poor health).
  • Wear a mask.
 

‎As B.C. moves through the phases of its Restart Plan 

common sense approaches to prevent infection and transmission must continue when out in public:

  • Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. 
  • When in public, continue to distance yourself 2 metres (6 feet) away from others when possible. If this cannot be achieved, you may choose to wear a non-medical mask or cloth mask.
  • Try to use public transit or go to stores at off peak times.
  • If you are sick, stay home! Do not go shopping, take public transit, go to work or go to school. Call 811 for health advice about how you are feeling and what to do next.
  • If you have to cough or sneeze, make sure you sneeze or cough into a tissue or the crook of your arm (elbow) and then wash your hands.
Shopping
  • Consider only shopping once per week for essential supplies and use food delivery services or online shopping where available. 
  • Avoid crowded places and if a store is busy, consider going somewhere else.
  • If you are older or have health conditions, consider asking your family, friends and neighbors to help you get the supplies you need. 
  • Retail stores are now planning to resume services in mid-May. BC's Restart Plan provides more detailed information about the province's step-by-step process to re-open different sectors.
  • Many malls, shops and stores have put into place plans to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Operations and opening hours may have changed, there may be a limit in place on the number of people allowed inside at a time for example. Please follow instructions provided by the store and public health recommendations to reduce the spread of the virus.
Returning to work
WorkSafeBC has developed industry specific guidelines to assist businesses and employees during the second phase of BC's Restart Plan. For up-to-date information please visit the WorkSafeBC and BCCDC websites.

Returning to school
Part-time in-class instruction began again on June 1. Measures to reduce transmission in school settings and information for post-secondary institutions and childcare settings can be found on our Childcare & Schools page.

For more information on K-12 schools, programs and educational services visit Safe & Healthy Schools.
You must comply with the parenting agreement or court order that gives parenting time or contact with a child to another person. You should not change the current schedule unless there is a good reason to believe your child’s safety is at risk. Parents may have to temporarily adjust parenting time schedules if the child or parent must self-isolate, is sick, or has been exposed to someone who is sick. More information is available on the BC Government website.
For the month of July, residents will be able to visit with one family member or friend. Visitor guidelines will be reassessed in August to determine whether the policy can be expanded safely to include other family members or friends. General visitor protocols will include:
  • Do not visit if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19 or you are self-isolating because you may have been exposed or recently travelled.
  • Visits must be booked in advance.
  • Visitors will be screened for signs and symptoms of illness, including COVID-19, prior to every visit.
  • All visitors are required to bring and wear a mask.
  • Visitors must clean hands before and after visit.
  • Visits will take place in specific "visiting areas," which will be organized by each residence.
  • Visitors should maintain a distance of two metres or two arm lengths from others.
  • Visits are not allowed if there is an active COVID-19 outbreak at the residence. 
Friends and family members should connect with the residence for specific instructions.

Prevention

Right now, there are no vaccines to prevent COVID-19. However, researchers are working hard to develop a vaccine.

 

No, influenza vaccines protect against viruses that cause influenza, often called the flu.


The vaccine does not protect against other viruses or bacteria that cause common colds, stomach flu, or COVID-19.


Recent BCCDC research also found that the influenza vaccine does not increase the risk of coronavirus.

 
A homemade mask or face covering can act as a barrier to help stop tiny droplets from your mouth and nose from entering the air and landing on other people or surfaces around you when you are talking, laughing, yelling, singing, coughing, or sneezing. Homemade masks can help to contain these droplets, but they work best if they have three layers and fit closely over your mouth, nose, cheeks and chin. Masks are less effective if the shape or the material has gaps in it because it will allow droplets to pass through. 

To be effective, masks must be worn properly and used together with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and not touching your face. Touching your face when wearing a mask, or putting it on or taking it off incorrectly, could increase the chance of getting infected.

If you are sick, you should stay home. Wearing a mask does not make it okay to go out, but it can help prevent the spread of germs at home if you cannot physically distance. More information about masks, including links to how to make homemade masks, can be found on our Masks page.
Wearing a non-medical, cloth mask, is now required in all indoor public spaces, such as shopping malls, grocery stores, community centres and on public transportation.

To be effective, masks must be worn properly and used together with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and not touching your face. Touching your face when wearing a mask, or putting it on or taking it off incorrectly, could increase the chance of getting infected.

If you are sick, you should stay home. Wearing a mask does not make it okay to go out. More information about masks can be found on our Masks page.

No, Health Canada cautions that people should only use products that are on their approved or interim list of hand sanitizers. Serious problems such as burns, poisoning, lung problems and allergic reactions can occur if people use non-approved products. Non-approved products may not be effective against COVID-19 and give people a false sense of security.


If you can't buy hand sanitizer, wash your hands! Washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to reduce the risk of spreading all germs, not just COVID-19. 

Mobile phones or other high touch electronics (keyboards, touch screens) are frequently handled items where germs can live and spread to others. Before cleaning or disinfecting your electronics, read the manufacturer's instructions to ensure there are no warnings or products that should not be used. You can clean your phone and other electronics by using disinfectant wipes or sprays with at least 70% alcohol at least daily. Dry your device thoroughly right after and never immerse it in any liquid. 

 

Supplies and preparation

Plan ahead and take time to consider what you will do if you or a family member becomes sick and needs care. Have supplies on hand so you do not need to leave your home if you become ill. Think about:
  • What food and household supplies you need for you and your family
  • What medicines you need, including renewing and refilling prescriptions ahead of time
  • Discuss your plans with your family, friends and neighbors, and set up a system to check in on each other by phone, email or text during times of need.
Learn more about being prepared from the Government of Canada.
If you are using infant formula, or thinking about using it, then you should have enough formula on hand to last for 14 days (two weeks). Infant formula is available in retail and online stores. There is an adequate supply of infant formula in the province. However, some retailers cannot restock fast enough due to people purchasing more than they usually do. 

If you can’t find the formula you normally use:
  • If you are combining breastfeeding and formula feeding, consider breastfeeding more often to increase your milk supply. If you have recently stopped, it may be possible to restart. Find out more from HealthLinkBC
  • Try a different brand or type of formula (ready-to-feed, liquid concentrate or powder). Any formula labelled for use from 0 to 12 months is safe for your baby, unless your baby is on a special formula. If so, contact your health care provider.
  • CAUTION: Do not dilute formula with extra water to make your supply last longer. This will not provide your baby with the nutrition needed for healthy growth. 
If you have run out of infant formula and need advice on acceptable short-term alternatives, call 8-1-1. 

COVID-19 has not been detected in human milk. Human milk has antibodies and immune factors that protect the health of an infant. See the frequently asked questions on COVID-19 and breastfeeding for more information.  

You can also call 8-1-1 for breastfeeding support.  

Symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses including Influenza and the common cold. The most common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough or worsening cronic cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches
Less common symptoms include:
  • Stuffy nose
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Dizziness, confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin rashes or discoloration of fingers or toes

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Sometimes people with COVID-19 have mild illness, but their symptoms may suddenly worsen in a few days. For more information, visit our Symptoms page.

The COVID-19 self-assessment tool, developed with the BC Ministry of Health, will help determine whether you may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. You can complete this assessment for yourself, or on behalf of someone else.
  • You can download the COVID-19 BC Support App and Self-Assessment Tool Support App onto your mobile device. The Self-Assessment Tool is built in. The app will also let you receive the latest updates, trusted resources, and alerts for B.C. 
  • If you do not want to download the app, you can access the web version, but it is best viewed on a mobile device. 
There is no current evidence that ibuprofen makes COVID-19 worse. 
  • Ibuprofen is part of a group of medicines called NSAIDs and includes brand names like Advil and Motrin.
  • These medicines help with pain, fever or inflammation. 
  • Acetaminophen, which includes brand names like Tylenol, also helps with fever.
  • If you take ibuprofen to treat another condition, you should continue taking it. 
  • To treat symptoms like fever, we recommend first using acetaminophen. If it isn’t available, you can use ibuprofen as an alternative.

At this time, the available information suggests the incubation period is up to 14 days. The incubation period is the time from when a person is first exposed until symptoms appear.‎

What to do if you are sick

‎If you develop cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, go to the testing page or use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine if you need further assessment for COVID-19 testing by a physician, nurse practitioner or at a local collection centre. You can complete this assessment for yourself, or on behalf of someone else, if they are unable to. 


Go to our If you are sick page for details on how to stop the spread of germs, what to do if your symptoms get worse and ending self-isolation.

Please avoid going to the emergency department for COVID-19 testing. Examples of reasons to go to an emergency department include if you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, as these may be signs of a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. 


If you think you might have COVID-19, use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool. The tool will help determine if you need further assessment for COVID-19 testing by a physician, nurse practitioner or at a local collection centre. You can complete this assessment for yourself, or on behalf of someone else, if they are unable to. 

If you live in a household with someone who has COVID-19 it is important to clean and disinfect common areas regularly. Go to our If you are sick page for details on how to stop the spread of germs, what to do if your symptoms get worse and ending self-isolation.

For cleaning, water and detergent (e.g., liquid dishwashing soap) or common household cleaning wipes should be used. Apply firm pressure while cleaning. Surfaces should be cleaned at least once a day. Next, use a store bought disinfectant or diluted bleach solution, one part bleach to 50 parts water (20 ml of bleach to 1 litre of water), and allow the surface to remain wet for one minute. Clean surfaces that are touched often (e.g., counters, table tops, doorknobs, toilets, sinks, taps, etc.) at least twice a day.‎‎
This information will help you feed your baby safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Wash your hands before and after holding your baby, breastfeeding/preparing infant formula and feeding your baby
  • Wear a mask while you have symptoms (e.g., cough, sore throat, fever, sneezing).  Masks are not recommended for children under two years old. For more information see our Masks page.
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces often
  • Wash and disinfect all infant feeding supplies carefully after each use. Learn more here.
  • Stay connected with support persons while practicing physical distancing and avoid others who are unwell
  • Limit the number of people who feed your baby
Information for families who are breastfeeding and provide expressed breast milk

Currently, health experts have not found COVID-19 in human milk. If you are breastfeeding or feeding your child expressed milk, continue to do so as often as possible. 

You can find more information on how to safely breastfeed your baby and/or young child during COVID-19 here

Information for families who use infant formula

For families who have made an informed decision to use infant formula, continue to safely prepare and store infant formula as described on the product label.

You can find more information on how to safely feed your baby during COVID-19 if you are using or thinking about using infant formula here

Reach out to local health care providers for any urgent concerns, or call 8-1-1 to speak with a nurse or dietitian at HealthLinkBC.

Isolation and self-monitoring

Self-monitoring means you should be monitoring your health and the health of your children for symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Individuals who are self-monitoring are allowed to attend work and school and take part in regular activities.

For more information about self-monitoring, go to our Self-isolation page.
Self-isolation is used to lower the chance of spreading infectious germs to other people by avoiding situations where someone could infect others. Self-isolation is one important way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in B.C.

People at high-risk of having been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to self-isolate as there is a small chance you can spread germs in the days before you feel sick. This is called an incubation period, the time between being exposed to an infection and when you start to feel sick.

You must stay at home, in a hotel or similar place, and avoid all contact with others.

A number of groups of people including international travellers returning to Canada, contacts of a COVID-19 case, and people with symptoms or who are positive for COVID-19 are required to self-isolate. 

Detailed information can be found on our Self-isolation page.

‎A number of groups of people are being asked to self-isolate. Learn more on our Self-isolation page.


As of March 25, 2020, by Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act it is mandatory for any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. There are some individuals who are exempt from this order to provide essential services. Spot checks will be conducted by the Government of Canada to verify compliance.


Other individuals who are required to self-isolate include those who are a confirmed case of COVID-19 or a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19. These individuals are monitored by Public Health, both their health and their activities. If people do not voluntarily self-isolate, Public Health can use legal powers under B.C.’s Public Health Act to ensure that self-isolation occurs.


At this time, international travellers, close contacts of a COVID-19 case or a COVID-19 case are all required to self-isolate. All of these groups will have been told to self-isolate either by Canadian Border Services or Public Health. Self-isolation is required under either the Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act or B.C.’s Public Health Act.

All of us have a role to play to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the risk for vulnerable populations in our communities. Ways we can all reduce our risk of COVID-19 are to stay at home as much as possible and stay at home if you are sick. If going out in public, in addition to physical distancing, the most important thing you can do to prevent infection is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.

Testing

COVID-19 testing is done using samples collected by a nasopharyngeal swab (NP) or throat swab. The BCCDC Public Health Laboratory (PHL) has developed laboratory guidance for COVID-19 diagnostic testing. If your health care provider thinks you may have the new coronavirus, they will arrange for testing.

 

If you develop cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, visit the testing page or use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to determine if you need further assessment for COVID-19 testing by a healthcare provider or at a local collection centre. You can complete this assessment for yourself, or on behalf of someone else, if they are unable to. 


Unless a test is recommended by a medical health officer or a healthcare provider, an individual that has no symptoms, even if they are a contact of a confirmed case or a returning traveller, do not require a test.

 

The BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool will help determine if you need further assessment for COVID-19 testing by a physician, nurse practitioner or a local collection centre. Safe testing may be available at different health care settings, including your doctor's office, walk-in clinic, collection centre or urgent and primary care centre. 


A collection centre is a location where a person can be assessed and get tested for COVID-19. You can call 8-1-1 to find the nearest centre or click on the links below.

Another place to get tested may be an Urgent and Primary Care Centre and locations are listed on HealthLinkBC.

 

Yes. People who are vulnerable to COVID-19 complications should get tested if they develop symptoms, even if they are mild. Physicians and nurse practitioners may have a lower threshold for testing people who are more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19, or people who care for these individuals. 

People without symptoms do not need to be tested for COVID-19 unless it is recommended by a medical health officer or a health care provider.

‎The time until test results are available may vary depending on testing location. Throughout B.C., there are many labs running tests seven days a week to get test results back as soon as possible. Go to the Test Results page to find out how to get your negative results by phone, text or online.

 

It is important to stay at home and avoid contact with others (self-isolate) after your test. Our Self-isolation page has information on how to self-isolate, self-monitor your symptoms and what do if you start to feel worse or need medical care.

 
Go to the Test Results page to find ways you may be able to get your negative results by phone, text or online. If you were tested by your primary health care provider you can also contact them for your results.

The BCCDC is only able to provide verbal results through the COVID-19 Negative Results line. Hard copies or in-person test results are not available from the BCCDC. The COVID-19 Negative Results line (1-833-707-2792) is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, seven days a week.
Antibodies help protect you from getting sick. They are proteins created by your immune system (i.e., the system that defends against infections) that float around your body and look for viruses or other pathogens that cause illness. When they find a virus, they attach to it and that signals to your body to destroy the virus before it has a chance to make you sick. Your body produces many types of antibodies but each kind will only attach to a specific virus. Your body has to be taught how to make the antibodies for each virus. It learns how to make antibodies by being exposed to the virus after getting sick, or by getting immunized. It may take up to 7 to 14 days for our body to make antibodies to a new infection.  
 
For new viruses, like the virus that causes COVID-19, your body does not have the antibodies needed to protect itself. That’s why it is important to take precautions, like washing your hands and staying physically apart, to prevent getting sick.
Antibody or serology testing can show if you have had a COVID-19 infection in the past. Because there is no vaccine yet available for COVID-19, the only way a person can develop antibodies is from being previously infected. This type of test is less useful for diagnosing current infection because it can take weeks for your body to make enough antibodies to be detected through antibody testing.

B.C. is beginning to use antibody testing in very few clinical situations. Antibody testing can also be used at the direction Medical Health Officers as part of a public health investigation or for epidemiologic research studies.
 
COVID-19 is a new illness so there is not enough information yet to know how long or if at all, a person will be immune if they’ve previously been infected and developed antibodies. Research studies in B.C. and Canada are trying to understand whether people with antibodies to COVID-19 can get COVID-19 again. They are also looking at how many people have been infected with COVID-19 in British Columbia.

For more information please visit the Antibody Testing page.

 Testing people without symptoms is not recommended in B.C. and is generally not available through the provincial health care system. This includes routine screening for employment, for travel, in schools, before surgery or for other health procedures. This advice may be different from other provinces or countries. Read the letter from the Provincial Health Officer on testing prior to travel in B.C. 


One of the reasons B.C. is not testing people without symptoms is because there are low levels of COVID-19 in the province. Most cases in B.C. have happened because of known contact with another person with COVID-19 or within a cluster of cases. Very few cases of COVID-19 have been in people where the source is unknown. B.C. has been testing anyone with symptoms since May and currently only 2% of tests come back positive. This is a very low rate and it's expected that there would be even fewer positive results if testing was done for people without symptoms.

Some people may be worried that people without symptoms may have COVID-19 and could pass it on to others. While this could happen, the chances of this happening are very small because of the low levels of COVID-19 in the province.


There are some private pay clinics that offer testing for a fee to people who require asymptomatic testing for reasons that fall outside of B.C. public health recommendations such as for travel or employment.


Please contact these clinics directly to learn more and to arrange for this testing.

Treatment and medical care

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Information about specific medications, drugs and vaccines can be found on the Treatments page.

Many of the symptoms can be managed with home treatment such as drinking plenty of fluids, rest and using a humidifier or hot shower to ease a cough or sore throat. Most people recover from coronaviruses on their own. For people with more serious illness supportive care in or out of hospital may be needed.

For more information on what you can do if you have symptoms, see:
Yes, it is important to keep immunizations up to date. 

Immunization is an essential service and health units are continuing to hold clinics during COVID-19. However, services may vary. 

Clinic changes have been made to ensure safety. 

Visit ImmunizeBC for the latest information on immunization during COVID-19.

Events and gatherings 

Weddings and funerals may proceed with a limited number of people and a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. You can have a maximum of 10 people attend, including the officiant. There should be no receptions of any kind inside or outside in any venue including homes or community-based venues. Learn more about the recent orders restricting events and gatherings.

 

At this time, British Columbians must limit in-person social gatherings to the people they live with. This is not the time to invite friends or family over to your home and do not go to someone else’s home for a social visit. Learn more about social interactions.

School, daycare and workplaces

To help workers stay safe at work during the COVID-19 outbreak, WorkSafeBC has compiled health and safety information for employers and workers.


Go to WorkSafeBC for current health and safety information as well as additional guidance for industries returning to safe operation during phase 2.‎

 
If you need to share a vehicle when traveling (either to work or to some other location), you should consider the following to help reduce spreading COVID-19:

  • Try to keep as much distance as possible between passengers; consider having a second person travel in the back seat.
  • For regular trips (such as those to a work location) try to keep the same people car-pooling together to reduce unnecessary contact with others. 
  • Avoid using the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation during passenger transport; use the car’s vents to bring in fresh outside air and/or lower the vehicle windows.
  • Have each person handle their own bags and belongings.
  • Be careful of commonly touched shared surfaces such as seatbelt buckles, door handles, visors, knobs and controls. Clean and disinfect these surfaces regularly and between shifts if cars are shared on the job. 
  • Keep tissues and hand sanitizer available in the vehicle. Practice cough and sneezing etiquette and be careful to ensure you have enough ventilation when using hand sanitizer. 
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer as soon as you leave the shared vehicle. 

Travellers 

Yes. Incoming travellers are screened at all borders – land, sea and air. Visit our Travel page to learn more 
Unless you are exempt, all international travellers returning to B.C. are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days. Travellers must complete the federal ArriveCAN application prior to arrival or upon their return to B.C. 

More information is available on the BC government website for returning international travellers.

All travellers are encouraged to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. If you have questions, or you start to feel symptoms, contact your health care provider, 8-1-1, your local public health unit, or complete the COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment tool.
Many Canadians become ill and require medical assistance when they are outside of Canada. If you get sick when you are travelling, here’s how to get help:
  • Most major tourist hotels have in-house doctors who can provide medical care. Hotels can also arrange appointments with local physicians.
  • If you have travel insurance, contact the local number you may have been given or the assistance centres in Canada and ask for a referral.
  • If you need urgent care, the best option is often the nearest hospital. In some countries, ambulances may not be common. Use whatever form of transportation you have to get to a hospital. 
Please go to the Government of Canada Assistance abroad Emergency information for more details. Go to the COVID-19: Your safety and security outside Canada for information about how to stay safe outside of Canada and how to get help to return home. 
 



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