Update to COVID-19 testing guidance and PCR tests for health care workers

Updated on: October 17, 2022

Provincial COVID-19 testing guidance has been updated.

Most community PCR test collection sites are closing because rapid antigen tests are now broadly available throughout B.C.

PCR testing is no longer recommended for all symptomatic health-care workers, first responders and staff and residents in congregate settings unless they meet other criteria for testing.

Testing continues to be recommended for people when a positive or negative result will help inform their care and treatment. This includes people who are:

  • in hospital

  • pregnant

  • at higher risk of severe illness and who may benefit from treatments such as Paxlovid and remdesivir.

People with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 may use rapid antigen tests. Rapid antigen test kits are available free for everyone through community pharmacies.

Positive rapid antigen test results are acceptable for initiating treatment and no confirmatory PCR testing is required for outpatients.

Use of rapid tests may be especially important for people living in communities with difficulty accessing testing and secondary or tertiary care, such as rural, remote, and isolated or Indigenous communities, work-camps, and Indigenous people living in urban settings.

Clinicians may decide to order a PCR if symptoms worsen or remain persistent. Medical health officers may also recommend testing in high-risk settings or as part of a public health investigation.