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Testing information

Information about COVID-19 testing for British Columbians has recently changed.

Last updated: March 26, 2021 

We are learning that some symptoms, like fever or chills, cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, and trouble breathing are more likely to be COVID-19. New guidance for when to get a COVID-19 test reflects this new evidence.

On this page

What you need to know

  • Use the B.C. COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to be tested for COVID-19
  • A COVID-19 test is recommended if:
    • you had a contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and have any one of the symptoms below.  
    • you are experiencing  symptoms as described below.
  • If you feel unwell and are unsure about your symptoms, contact your health care provider or call 8-1-1. 

When to get tested

(click image below to expand)

Testing for COVID-19 contacts

You need a COVID-19 test if:
  • You are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 AND 
  • You have 1 or more of any of the symptoms listed below
A close contact is generally someone who has been near a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes when health and safety measures were not in place or were insufficient. This includes up to two days before someone develops symptoms.

For more information on close contacts go to the close contacts page of the BCCDC website. 

Symptoms that require testing 

For people who do not know if they had a contact with someone with COVID-19, you need a COVID-19 test if you have new or worsening symptoms.

If you have 1 or more of these key symptoms, seek testing as soon as possible:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Difficulty breathing
If you have 2 or more of the symptoms below for more than 24 hours, and they are not related to any other pre-existing conditions, seek testing. 

These symptoms are:

  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
If you have only one of these symptoms, or a symptom that is not on this list and you are able to manage the symptoms at home, stay home until you feel better. If you have any questions, or the symptoms don’t go away contact your health care provider or call 8-1-1.

You should continue to seek care for other medical conditions as needed, even if it’s not related to COVID-19. 

Children have similar but milder symptoms to adults.

Should I get tested if I don’t have symptoms?

If you don’t have any symptoms, testing is not recommended even if you are a contact. 

In B.C., testing is generally not available through the provincial health care system for people without symptoms including routine screening for employment, travel, school, before surgery or for other health procedures. 

If you are unsure, use the B.C. COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

Learn more:

Find a collection centre to be assessed and get tested 

Click on the image or links below for a list of collection centres in the province to find one near you. You can also call 8-1-1 to find the nearest centre. Most COVID-19 testing sites in B.C. can test children and youth.

Private testing/ Testing for Travel

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.

To be added to the list of clinics offering private testing, contact

How your test is processed


See the Understanding test results page to learn what to do after you receive your test results.

SOURCE: Testing information ( )
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