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.
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 above.
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
- 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
- Body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
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.
When to get tested
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. Health and safety measures include things such as physical barriers or physical distancing of at least 2 metres. If you are wearing a non-medical mask, you may still be considered a close contact. Some interactions that are less than 15 minutes can also be considered close contact.
- Being a close contact with a person who has COVID-19 can occur in different settings and depends on different situations such as how long you were together, how close you were, what happened during the interaction, if protective measures such as physical distancing were followed, or in other special circumstances
- If you are identified by public health as a close contact, you will need to self-isolate and monitor yourself for symptoms.
Who is considered a “close contact” of a person with COVID-19?
Close contact can occur when people have intimate contact, share a room, a house or a workplace, or are in a crowded place where health and safety measures aren’t always being used. You can also be considered a close contact if someone with COVID-19 sneezes or coughs on you. In other situations, public health will need to assess what happened, and decide if someone is a close contact.
You may be a close contact even if you interacted with a person up to 2 days before they showed symptoms.
Some people are asymptomatic and still test positive. You may also be a close contact if you were around them up to 2 days before their positive test.
If public health decides you are a close contact, you have to follow their advice.
What should I do if I am a close contact of someone with COVID-19?
If you are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19, you need to:
- Self-Isolate for 14 days: Self-isolation is important to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to others. See the self-isolation page for details about how long you will need to self-isolate and tips on how to self-isolate safely.
- Monitor yourself for symptoms: See the symptoms page for the most up-to-date information about which symptoms are associated with COVID-19.
Should I get tested if I am a close contact of someone with COVID-19?
If you are not showing any symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to be tested, unless you are asked to by Public Health. It can take up to 14 days from the last time you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 for symptoms to develop or to have enough virus in your body for a test to detect COVID-19. This is why it is important for you to self-isolate for 14 days and watch for symptoms.
If you get symptoms, you will likely need to get tested. Go to the testing page for more information.
Not sure if you should be tested? Complete the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool.
Do I still need to self-isolate for 14 days if I get tested and my test comes back negative?
Yes, if you are tested for COVID-19 and the result is negative, you will need to continue to self-isolate for the full 14 days. There may not have been enough virus in your body to be detected and show a positive test result. This is why is it very important
What do I do if I live with someone who has COVID-19?
If you live with someone who has COVID-19, our handout/webpage for caregivers and household members of those with COVID-19 has information on what you should do to reduce the spread of the virus.
What do I do if I live with someone who is a close contact?
If you live with someone who is a close contact, there are steps you can take to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 to others in your home while this person is self-isolating in case they get sick with COVID-19. You may want to limit your contact with people who have a greater chance of getting very sick from COVID-19 such as older people and people with some chronic diseases.
Consider cleaning and disinfecting your home more often – the cleaning and disinfecting page has detailed information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while keeping you safe from harsh