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When to get a COVID-19 test

Guidance about when to get a COVID-19 test has recently changed.

Last updated: November 27, 2021

New November 27, 2021: The Government of Canada has implemented border measures for all travellers who have been in the Southern Africa region. If you arrived in Canada from South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, or Namibia on or after November 13, 2021, please quarantine and get tested for COVID-19 regardless of whether or not you have symptoms. Encourage your close contacts to get tested too. Find a testing location.

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.

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

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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. 

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

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.

SOURCE: When to get a COVID-19 test ( )
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