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Understanding Test Results

Find out what your COVID-19 test results mean. 

Last updated: January 20, 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 test came back as “positive”

A positive test result means that you may be infected with COVID-19. If your test results come back as COVID-19 positive, you need to self-isolate, manage your symptoms and let others know. Learn More:
I have COVID-19


Your 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 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. travel or work), the test should be repeated in 24 hours. If testing is not available/possible, it can be presumed positive. 

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

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 your test result has not come back or shows as “pending” on Health Gateway after 4 to 5 days, it may be cancelled. This means your test was not completed. Tests can be cancelled for several reasons like poor sample quality, loss or spillage.

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

Special instructions

Health care workers should notify their employer of a positive result.

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 are unable to isolate safely or do not have access to a place where you can self-isolate from others, contact Services BC at  1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319).

‎If you live in the Fraser Health region, learn what to do next if you’ve tested positive for 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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