COVID-19 Testing

Types of Test • When Do I Need a COVID-19 Test? • Positive Test Result

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Types o​f Test

Testing can determine if you have COVID-19. This is an important step to help reduce the spread of the virus.

There are two types of tests available: PCR tests and rapid tests.

PCR Tests

PCR tests are conducted by trained health care providers who take a nasal swab. Results are generally analyzed in a lab. 

PCR tests provide more accurate results than rapid tests because they use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify the viral genetic material of COVID-19.

Test result return times vary across BC but generally take one to three days.

Rapid Tests 

Rapid tests (called rapid antigen tests) also involve collecting a nasal swab. 

Rapid tests can be conducted at home and provide quick results – generally within 15 minutes. 

When taken while someone is at the peak of their infection, rapid antigen tests generally provide accurate results as this is when virus levels in the body are the highest. That's why these tests are only being used in BC for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms. 

Some First Nations communities have access to another type of rapid test that provides results of similar quality to lab-based tests for people with COVID-19 symptoms. Trained health care providers administer these tests using equipment such as GenX, IDNow and others. This equipment is different from the equipment used for the at-home​ rapid tests.​

When Do I Need a ​​COVID-19 Test?

You may use the BCCDC COVID-19 self-assessment tool to determine if you need to get tested.

A COVID-19 test is recommended if:

You have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • fever (above 38 degrees)
  • chills
  • cough
  • loss of sense of smell or taste
  • difficulty breathing

You have two or more of the symptoms below for more than 24 hours - and they are not related to any other pre-existing condition:

  • sore throat
  • loss of appetite
  • extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • headache
  • body aches
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea

If you have only one of the symptoms on the second list, or a symptom that is not on either list, and you are able to manage the symptoms at home, stay home until you feel better.

People younger than five or older than 55 should get tested by a health care practitioner if that option is available within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. If that option is not available, use a rapid (at-home) test. ​

Children have similar but milder symptoms to adults. (See COVID-19 and Children on BCCDC.)

If you have any questions, or the symptoms don't go away, contact your health care provider or call 8-1-1 or the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program (1-855-344-3800).

You should continue to seek care for other medical conditions as needed, even if it's not related to COVID-19.

Positive Test ​Result

People who test positive for COVID-19 need to:

  • self-isolate
  • manage symptoms
  • notify close contacts
  • report your positive test result
See I Have COVID-19​ for more about these actions. 

 Be a COVID-19 #VaxChamp!

Vince Sampare, Gitsxan Prince Rupert, Takes the Pledge!

 Wanting to get vaccinated?

Vis​it the BC's provincial COVID-19 vaccination website to re​gister for a vaccination and get up-to-date information and help.

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 Looking for BC government COVID-19 info?

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 Been exposed or experiencing symptoms?

Contact y​​​​our primary care provider or local public health office or call 8 - 1 - 1(Ta​ke a self-assessment.)​ ​​