COVID-19 Symptoms, Testing and Results

This page gives you the information required to navigate our testing services and explains what to do if you are exposed to COVID-19 or test positive. 

I may have been exposed

For the latest information for close contacts and people who may may been exposed to COVID-19, please visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1. This service is available in multiple languages.

Should I get a COVID test?
  • Testing for COVID-19 is recommended when the result affects 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 
    • are eligible for treatment (see details here)
    • 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 no longer have a fever and feel well enough to return to your regular activities.
  • If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need a test.

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.

How do I book a testing appointment?

In most cases testing appointments are no longer needed. You can safely complete a rapid test at home or, if you are more vulnerable and eligible for treatment, you can use a self-gargle test if your symptoms persist and your rapid test is negative. Please note that you will need to call 1-844-901-8442 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily to register the self-gargle test. 

If self-gargle tests are not currently available in your community (Nanaimo and Victoria) and the Self-Assessment Tool recommends testing, please call 1-844-901-8442 between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.

How do I get a rapid antigen test? 

Rapid antigen tests are free for BC residents aged 18+. You can pick up a kit from your local pharmacy. For more information about rapid tests, please visit https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/info/testing 

What kind of test should I do?

Use a rapid test first. Rapid testing kits are available free at B.C. pharmacies. Keep a kit at home in case you need it.

Self-gargle kits are only available for people eligible for a COVID-19 test. Use the Self-Assessment Tool to determine if you require a test. If you are eligible, contact the call center to book an appointment or access a self-gargle kit: 1-844-901-8442 (daily 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.) 

What should I do after my test if I’m not eligible for treatment?

If you test positive you need to self-isolate. The recommended length of self-isolation is different depending on your symptoms and vaccination status. Please visit the BCCDC website for details. 

What should I do after my test if I am eligible for treatment?
  • Testing for COVID-19 is recommended when the result affects 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 
    • Are eligible for treatment (see details here)
    • live or work in settings with others who are high-risk for severe illness 
  • If you meet the criteria above please use a rapid test kit at home. If the result is positive please self-isolate and call your physician or 811 to be assessed for treatment. Please note that treatment must start within five days of symptom onset. If you cannot get a timely appointment with your physician please call 811. 
  • If your rapid test is negative, your symptoms continue and you live in Nanaimo or Victoria, please call 1-844-901-8442 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.
  • Outside of Nanaimo and Victoria, please use a self-gargle test at home. If the result is positive please self-isolate and call your physician or 811 to be assessed for treatment. 
  • You can pick up a self-gargle kit at Island Health outpatient labs to keep on hand in case it is needed. 
How do I administer a rapid antigen test?

Follow the testing kit instructions or get more information on the BCCDC website. You no longer need to report your test result online.  

How do I prepare for a gargle test?

The gargle test method involves swishing and gargling sterile salt water and spitting it into a collection tube. Please follow the instructions that come with the kit. 

How do I get my test results?

There are a number of options available to get your test results. Please click here for more details. 

How do I notify my close contacts?

Contact tracing helps to stop the spread of COVID-19 by identifying people who have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 and asking them to take certain steps. Precautions are different for vaccinated and unvaccinated people. '

Please review the instructions for identifying and notifying close contacts. 

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