Testing Guidance

Testing is recommended for patients with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, however mild. Symptoms may include: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, loss of sense of smell, headache, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, or loss of appetite.

Testing is especially important for groups that are more vulnerable to complications due to COVID-19, people who care for these individuals, and for people for whom a diagnosis will change the public health management or care they receive.

Testing is particularly important for symptomatic individuals who are:

  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
  • Requiring admission to hospital or likely to be admitted, such as pregnant individuals near-term, patients on hemodialysis, or cancer patients receiving radiation or chemotherapy.
  • Healthcare workers
  • Contacts of a known case of COVID-19
  • Travellers who in the past 14 days returned to B.C. from outside Canada, or from an area with higher infection rates within Canada
  • Residents of remote, isolated, or Indigenous communities
  • Living in congregate settings such as work-camps, correctional facilities, shelters, group homes, assisted living and seniors’ residences
  • Homeless or have unstable housing
  • Essential service providers, such as first responders

Clinical judgement remains important in the differential diagnosis and work-up of individuals presenting with these symptoms (e.g., people with allergies).


  Interim guidance for self-collected specimens for acute COVID-19 diagnosis in settings without accessible health services
New: January 5

CDC Summary of evidence on signs and symptoms for COVID-19
New: December 22


Symptomatic staff, affiliate staff, primary care and subspecialty providers and first responders who provide direct patient care can now call 1-833-737-9377 to access COVID-19 testing. Please use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool to help determine if further assessment or testing is needed. 

More Information regarding: COVID-19 testing line for direct patient care providers


COVID-19: Adult & Pediatric Viral Testing Guidelines for British Columbia
Updated: December 18

COVID-19: Adult Rinse and Gargle Test Now Available and video
Updated: December 3

COVID-19 Testing for Children and Youth
New: September 17

Nasopharyngeal testing video for health care providers  (video)
New: September 10

Information for Health Care Providers on Testing Asymptomatic Individuals for COVID-19
New: August 26

For more information on testing and laboratory guidance click here.

Public Health Laboratory guidance for COVID-19 testing

Interpreting the results of Nucleic Acid Amplification testing (NAT; or PCR tests)

Guideline for the appropriate use of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Antibody (Serology) Testing

(New August 17)

COVID-19 Antibodies – Frequently Asked Questions

(New August 17)

Viral and antibody tests-What are the differences (infographic)

(New August 17)



Please ask your patients to call directly in to the call centre at COVID-19 Call Centre: 1-844-901-8442 (Mon-Sat 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. closed Sun), for most efficient test scheduling. 

Alternatively, please complete this referral form

Click here How do I get a COVID-19 test.