Skip to main content

When to get a COVID-19 test

Information about when to get a COVID-19 test.

Last updated: March 24, 2022

What you need to know

  • Similar to the approach to testing for other diseases, testing for COVID-19 is recommended when a positive or negative result will inform decisions about treatment or care. This includes people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and
    • are currently hospitalized (any age)
    • are pregnant
    • are at risk of more severe disease and currently eligible for treatment
    • live or work in settings with others who are high-risk for severe illness 
  • If you have mild symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need a test. Stay home and away from others until you feel well enough to return to your regular activities and you no longer have a fever.
  • Mild symptoms are symptoms that can be managed at home.
  • If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need a test.

You should continue to seek medical care if you feel you need it.

If you are unsure about whether to get a COVID-19 test
If you have questions about your symptoms, contact your health care provider or call 8-1-1.

If you find it hard to breathe, have chest pain, can’t drink anything, feel very sick, and/or feel confused, contact your health care provider right away or go to your local emergency department or call 9-1-1.

If you require a test for travel purposes, you will need to pay for a test at a private clinic. Find a clinic that offers private testing.


Testing is recommended for people who meet one of the following criteria and have symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection:

People for whom a positive result could impact treatment or care
  • Hospitalized individuals of any age
  • Pregnant women or individuals

People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised:

  • Have had an organ transplant and are taking anti-rejection medications
  • Are receiving treatment for cancer
  • Have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant
  • Have been diagnosed with a primary immunodeficiency disorder
  • Have been diagnosed with HIV and are not currently taking medication for it
  • Are on active treatment with immunosuppressive therapies
  • Are on dialysis and/or have severe kidney disease
People with conditions that put them at high risk
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Severe COPD or asthma, or another serious respiratory condition (e.g., on long-term home oxygen)
  • Diagnosed with a rare blood disorder or inborn error of metabolism
  • Splenectomy or functional asplenia
  • Insulin-dependent diabetes
  • Significant developmental disabilities
  • Neurological or other condition requiring use of a ventilator or continuous bi-PAP

People who are fully vaccinated
  • 70 years or older with three or more chronic condition that increases the risk of severe illness or hospitalization
People who are unvaccinated or whose vaccines are not up to date 
  1. Unvaccinated individuals:

    • Aged 50­ and older, or
    • Have three or more chronic conditions that increase the risk of severe illness or hospitalization
  2. People who have not yet received a booster dose:
    • Aged 50­–69 years and have three or more chronic conditions that increase the risk of severe illness or hospitalization
    • Aged 70 years and older and have one or more chronic condition that increase the risk of severe illness or hospitalization.
Chronic conditions may include obesity, diabetes, heart failure, stroke and neurological conditions.
  • Healthcare workers in hospitals, long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities or in a clinic in the community
  • First responders (i.e. police officer, emergency medical technician /paramedic, or firefighter)
  • Staff and residents in congregate settings, such as long-term care facilities, shelters, correctional facilities and group homes
  • Communities that are far from testing centres and hospitals, such as rural, remote, or Indigenous communities, or work-camps, and Indigenous people living in urban settings
  • Fever or chills 
  • Cough
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

If testing is not recommended

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and testing is not recommended:

Learn how to manage your symptoms


SOURCE: When to get a COVID-19 test ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Centre for Disease Control. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2022 Provincial Health Services Authority.