This page contains general information and answers to common questions about COVID-19.
Non-medical information about COVID-19 is available 7:30am-8pm, 7 days a week at 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319).
Island Health provides additional information by Health Service Delivery Areas (HSDA): north, central and south Vancouver Island. The data is updated each Monday or more frequently if new cases are reported. To protect people’s privacy, specific locations of confirmed cases will not be identified unless we cannot reach everyone who needs to be contacted.
Data shows that our public health practices are working. Recently identified individuals with COVID-19 are required to self-isolate; therefore, the risk to the community remains low. Please continue with preventative measures, such as frequent handwashing, keeping two metres from people outside your household, wearing a mask when in situations where physical distancing is not be possible, and staying home when sick.
- Changes to visitor policy for Long-Term Care and Assisted Living (June 30): On June 30, 2020, the Ministry of Health and Provincial Health Officer announced changes to the visitor policy for Long-Term Care and Assisted Living homes to allow a single designated visitor. Before this can happen, all sites must have written plans in place outlining how they will meet the requirements and precautions to ensure the safety of residents, staff and visitors. We hope to have all plans completed by mid-July. Please ensure you check with the facility before visiting to familiarize yourself with updated visitor protocols. Read more about changes to the visitor policy.
Frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 signs and symptoms, including screening criteria, is available on the BCCDC website at www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19.
- How can I be tested?
If you develop cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine if you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. You can complete this assessment for yourself, or on behalf of someone else, if they are unable to.
If an individual has no symptoms, even if they are a contact of a confirmed case or a returning traveller, they do not require a test.
At this time, any physician or nurse practitioner can order a test for a patient with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms based on their clinical judgment.
If you do not have a primary care provider please call Island Health’s Call Centre at 1-844-901-8442 to be assessed to determine if you need testing. Appointments for COVID-19 testing must be pre-booked through a primary care provider or Island Health’s Call Centre. Testing sites are unable to accommodate unscheduled or walk-in visits. Find a testing site, also known as a collection centre, at a location near you.
Island Health asks members of the public to please not go to a hospital emergency department seeking COVID-19 testing. However, people experiencing a medical emergency should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Read more about symptoms, testing and isolation.
For more information, please visit the BCCDC webpage on COVID-19 testing.
- Who needs to self-isolate?
People returning to BC from travel outside of Canada must stay home for 14 days and provide a self-isolation plan, and people who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 must stay home for 14 days after their last encounter.
Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever and cough. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and complete the self-assessment at https://covid19.thrive.health/ and follow the recommendations provided.
If you develop symptoms, continue to self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started OR 14 days from when you started self-isolating, whichever is longer.
Read more about self-isolation.
- I don’t have symptoms, but I want a test before I travel. What can I do?
If you are considering non-essential travel, please know that the current recommendations for British Columbians are to travel within BC and explore our diverse and beautiful province.
Currently, there is no private pay COVID-19 testing available in BC and publicly funded testing for asymptomatic travellers is not available.
Please check with the embassy in the country where you will be travelling for full details on COVID-19 requirements. In many cases, if you are not able to test prior to travel, you will have an option to follow self-isolation measures on arrival or get tested at you destination, or both.
- Who can I contact about people who are not following self-isolation rules?
It is our strong expectation that people who are required to self-isolate will do so. Compliance is very important to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Travellers returning to Canada or passing through Canada to gain access to Alaska must submit and have approved self-isolation plans and self-isolate for at least 14 days or 10 days after onset of symptoms, whichever is longer, as per the Emergency Order under the federal Quarantine Act, whether or not they have respiratory symptoms. There are some individuals who are exempt from this order to provide essential services.
Please find more information in the provincial news release.
RCMP will follow up with travellers by phone or site visit to ensure individuals are following their approved
self-isolation plans. If the RCMP have indicated they will not follow-up, you can send the details to the following two email addresses: email@example.com Or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, complaints can be send to the CBSA Border Watch Line at 1-888-502-9060.
- How do I protect myself and my family?
Follow the usual recommendations to prevent other common respiratory viruses.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If handwashing facilities are not available, you may use hand sanitizer.
Follow good respiratory etiquette. Cough or sneeze into your elbow sleeve, dispose of tissues appropriately and immediately wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and avoid contact with sick people to prevent the spread of respiratory illness.
Stay home if you are sick.
- Are face masks required?
Masks are not required in British Columbia, unlike other jurisdictions in Canada and internationally. Non-medical masks are recommended when it is difficult to keep a safe physical distance for an extended period of time. This may prevent droplets from contacting others and help reduce the spread of disease.
The best ways for us to stay safe is to wash our hands, maintain a safe physical distance from others, and keep our ‘rules’ for social interactions top-of-mind.
Medical masks and respirators need to be reserved for our health care settings and our health care workers because that's where they do the most good.
Learn more about how to use and create non-medical masks.
- Can I visit loved-ones in a care facility?
Stay home if you are sick to protect your loved ones.
Island Health has made the difficult decision to allow only essential visits to our facilities. Essential visits will be considered for patients who are critically ill, receiving end-of-life care, frail and need an escort or family member for their safety.
For more information, see our detailed visitor restrictions.
Visitors will now be allowed for long-term care and assisted living facilities. Residents will begin to be able to have a single designated visitor in a specific visiting area. Visitation in individual facilities can resume once they have their required written safety plan in place.
For more information, see COVID-19 guidance for long-term care facilities and assisted living.
- Can you provide some guidance about assisted and independent living sites?
Independent living, assisted living and long-term care provide different levels of health services and support for their clients, and are governed differently.
Clients in independent living facilities are independent and rent living space on site. There is no specific health regulatory body for independent living. Therefore, complaints are referred to the Seniors Advocate at 1-877-952-3181 or email@example.com.
The Residential Tenancy Board has jurisdiction where a tenant rents a home, such as Independent Living accommodations. Persons in Independent Living may receive home care services through Island Health's community health services, as well may be receiving other health services just as they would if they were in their own home. Landlords and tenants can apply for dispute resolutions when they can't resolve a problem related to a tenancy.
Clients in assisted living are independent and can make individual choices, but require a supportive environment due to physical and/or functional health challenges. Assisted living is regulated by the Assisted Living Registrar under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and the Assisted Living Regulation. Questions and concerns can be sent to 1-866-714-3378 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assisted living operators have been asked to reduce COVID risk within their facilities. This may include asking clients to follow voluntary practices, such as not leaving the facility or voluntarily self-isolating after return from any absence. Facilities may also choose to adopt additional practices, such as enhanced cleaning, physical distancing in dining areas and common rooms, to help reduce risk. Non-essential services, such as hair salons and personal services are not recommended in assisted living at this time.
Multiple types of living on a single site
Some operations include independent living, assisted living and/or long-term care on a single site. In some cases, operators have chosen to apply orders for long-term care or guidance for assisted living to the entire site. If you feel that your loved one is required to follow guidelines that are not appropriate, please follow up with the facility operator first to find a reasonable solution. If there are still concerns that are not addressed, please follow up with the appropriate regulatory agencies.
- Can the virus be transmitted without symptoms?
There is still a lot we are learning about COVID-19. There are reports about the virus spreading in the absence of symptoms. However, evidence shows that the virus is predominately spread through droplets when someone coughs. Washing your hands, keeping two metres or six feet away from others and staying home when you are sick are the best ways to prevent the virus from spreading.
- Should my child get immunized?
Even though we are in a COVID-19 pandemic, other disease-causing bacteria and viruses may also be circulating. It is critical to continue to immunize our children to protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines remain an extremely important, effective and safe way to protect your child and your community against many diseases and their complications.
Island Health continues to provide immunizations for children, in particular for children 6 years of age and under. Our teams are following all provincial recommendations for physical distancing, enhanced cleaning, and screening for symptoms. Please call your local health unit for more information and to book an appointment.
A message of thanks from Island Health President and CEO, Kathy MacNeil
COVID-19 Virtual Townhall
On May 19, Island Health CEO Kathy MacNeil, and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick, joined MLAs Norm Letnick and Ronna-Rae Leonard to answer your questions about COVID-19 in our region. Watch the recording of the live-streamed Virtual Townhall below, or on YouTube.
On April 21, Island Health CEO Kathy MacNeil, and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick, spoke with local MLAs to answer your questions about COVID-19 in our region. Watch the recording of the live-streamed Virtual Townhall below or on YouTube.
Videos from Island Health's Chief Medical Health Officer
Hover over the video to click through and watch the series or visit our COVID-19 showcase on Vimeo.
Updated July 28 2020 at 1:30 p.m.