British Columbia

Here is what you need to know if you live in B.C. and want to be tested for COVID-19

There are more than 80 collection centres across the province where people can be tested and according to the BC Centre for Disease Control, anyone in B.C. who wants a test can get one.

There are 87 collection centres across the province where people can be tested

The province says anyone with symptoms can now be tested for COVID-19. (Rafferty Baker)

Anyone in B.C. who has symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested for the virus, according to the provincial government.

Since the initial days of the pandemic, testing has been expanded to find as many cases of COVID-19 in the province as possible.

Health officials say tests can be performed by a physician, nurse practitioner or at a local community collection centre.

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) says there is no longer a requirement to be referred by a health-care provider or by calling 811 in order to get a test.

There is also an online self-assessment tool to help users determine whether they should be tested for COVID-19.

Who shouldn't get tested?

If you aren't showing any symptoms, the PHSA says you shouldn't be tested at this point.

That includes health-care workers, people who have been in contact with someone who contracted the virus, and returning travellers, it said.

The PHSA also says routine screening of people without symptoms for COVID-19 prior to travel outside of B.C. is not available. 

However, if you are a returning traveller, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

Health officials are planning to ramp up COVID-19 testing in the fall as B.C. braces for a second wave, with a target of 20,000 tests a day.

(CBC News)

Where can I get tested?

Testing stations are now open across the province, including in smaller communities.

In all, there are 87 community collection centres where the public can now be assessed.

"We also have more places where tests are run by both the BCDC and the health authorities so we can get results more quickly," said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

An online collection centre dashboard has been created by the province to help determine your nearest location.

What happens after I've been tested?

While waiting for test results, it's important that anyone showing symptoms self-isolate at home, public health officials say.

If you have been tested for COVID-19 and are leaving your home for medical care, the BCCDC says to call the hospital, clinic, or doctor's office to prepare them for your visit. Remind each health-care provider that you are waiting for COVID-19 test results.

A health care worker is pictured at a COVID-19 testing centre in Burnaby, British Columbia on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

If your test results are positive, PHSA says you will be contacted directly. Those who do not hear from public health are asked to wait 72 hours to call to confirm negative test results. 

You can also access your negative test results by text message or online.

If you need more non-medical information about COVID-19, the province has created an information line staffed from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT. It can be reached at 1-888-268-4319 or via text message at 604-630-0300.

When should I self-isolate?

The health authority says if you have symptoms like a fever, cough, or sore throat, you must self-isolate for 10 days. 

People arriving from abroad must self-isolate, whether or not they have symptoms, which means staying home and not going to work or school or running errands, and monitoring for symptoms for 14 days after arriving in the country. 

On March 25, the federal government imposed strict, mandatory quarantine rules on travellers returning to Canada and is promising heavy fines and jail time for those who ignore the warning.

On April 8, the provincial government announced that every traveller returning to B.C. from abroad will be required to present a formal self-isolation plan to provincial and federal authorities before they are allowed to enter the province.

Watch how you should self-isolate at home:

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You might choose to self-isolate at home if you’ve been exposed, or think you’ve been exposed, to COVID-19. Ellen Mauro explains what to do.

If you feel ill

Provincial health officials and BCCDC want people who are concerned they may have COVID-19 to stay away from others.

If you are feeling poorly, call HealthLink BC at 811 to talk to a nurse and get advice. HealthLink is a part of the Ministry of Health, the phone call is free and translation services are available in more than 130 languages.

Seek urgent medical care if it becomes harder to breathe, you can't drink anything or feel much worse. Call 911 if you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding.

Customers wait in line to shop for groceries at Famous Foods in Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. There is an increased risk of more severe outcomes for people aged 65 and older and people with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Stay home. Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. If you're showing symptoms, you can be tested for COVID-19. 

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Keep them clean.
  • Keep at least two metres away from people who are sick.
  • When outside the home, keep two metres away from other people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Masks won't fully protect you from infection, but can help prevent you from infecting others.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.



With files from The Associated Press