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Understanding Test Results

Learn what your lab (PCR) COVID-19 test results mean.

Last updated: March 16, 2022


If you are using a rapid antigen test and need information on how to interpret the results from the test device, visit:
Rapid antigen testing 

Your PCR test came back as “positive”

A positive test result means that you may have COVID-19. If your test results come back as COVID-19 positive, you need to:

  • Self-isolate and manage your symptoms 
  • Check to see if you may benefit from treatment
Learn more
I have COVID-19


Your PCR test came back as “negative”

A negative test result means that you likely did not have COVID-19 on the day you had the test. You may stop self-isolating once you feel well enough to return to regular activities.

If you recently arrived in B.C. from outside of Canada, follow any quarantine requirements set by the Federal government. Visit the Government of Canada website for more information travel.gc.ca/travel-covid.

If your symptoms get worse, contact your health care provider or call 8-1-1. 

Your PCR test came back as “indeterminate”

This means the test wasn't able to detect if you have COVID-19. A test result may be indeterminate if there was not enough of sample to test or the test couldn’t be validated.

If symptoms have not improved or if a definitive test result is required (e.g. for travel or work), the test should be repeated in 24 hours. If testing is not available or possible, it can be presumed positive. 

If symptoms have improved and a definitive test result is not required (e.g. for travel or work), the test can be presumed negative.

Your PCR test result is “pending”

Test result return times vary across B.C., but generally take 1 to 3 days. If it has been more than 3 days since you tested and you haven’t received your result, there may have been issue with testing your sample. Please call the BCCDC COVID-19 Test Results line at 1-833-707-2792 to speak to an agent.

Your PCR test result is “cancelled”

A test result can be cancelled if it could not be completed by the lab. This may happen for a number of reasons, such as poor sample quality, loss or spillage. 

Continue to follow public health guidance like self-isolation. Contact your health care provider, public health or call 8-1-1 to see if you need another test.

You have not heard back about your PCR test result

Test result return times vary across B.C., but generally take 1 to 3 days.  If you have not received a test result after 72 hours, please call the COVID-19 Results line at 1-833-707-2792.

Supports for First Nations people and their families

If you are First Nations citizen or family member of a First Nations person, and would like additional information and support, please phone 1-855-344-3800 to connect with the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week. 


Please also visit the First Nations Health Authority website for further information and resources about COVID-19 testing and what to do if you have COVID-19.

If you need support managing symptoms or advice on when to seek care, please contact your health care provider or contact HealthLink BC by calling 8-1-1. For the deaf and hard of hearing (TTY), call 7-1-1, or for Video Relay Service, visit Video Relay Services and have them call HealthLink BC at 604-215-5101.

SOURCE: Understanding Test Results ( )
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