Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

This self-assessment tool, developed with the BC Ministry of Health, will help determine whether you may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19.

Common Questions about COVID-19

Find answers to some of the most common questions about COVID-19. Learn how it spreads, how long after exposure symptoms take to appear and what symptoms to look for. Find out what you can do to prevent COVID-19.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an illness caused by a coronavirus. COVID-19 has spread worldwide including to British Columbia. The province of B.C. is taking steps to contain the spread of COVID-19. For more information, see

Resources in other languages

Download a PDF resource, below. The resources are translated into the following languages:

B.C. COVID-19 response updates

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, has declared a public health emergency for British Columbia. This provides the province with tools to quickly respond to the pandemic. For more information about British Columbia’s response to COVID-19 see:

Prevention and stopping the spread

British Columbians are asked to stay home. The more you stay at home, the safer it will be for everyone in your community. It reduces the possibility of spreading COVID-19 to others.

Physical distancing from others is important. The number of people getting sick across British Columbia is growing. Staying away from others is the only way to keep people from getting the disease. No community is immune. COVID-19 can spread by people who have minimal symptoms. Someone who seems healthy could spread it to parents, grandparents or other people in our community. Some of these people could get seriously ill from this virus.

Stay home except for essential errands. For example

  • Go to the grocery store only once a week
  • Send one household member on errands to reduce the number of potential exposures
  • Exercise at home or stay at least 2 metres from other people if you go for a walk in your neighbourhood
  • Avoid public places like malls
  • Do not have visitors

Learn more about how you can protect yourself and others by self-isolating:

If you must go out into the community, keep a physical distance of about 2 metres between yourself and others to help stop the spread. Remember to avoid handshakes and wave instead. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth. Practice respiratory etiquette, such as covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.

Several new physical distancing measures are in place around the province to limit spreading COVID-19. See:

Self-monitoring

Self-monitoring is monitoring for respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, etc. for 14 days. During this time, monitor your own health and the health of your children. Also monitor close contacts who are older or chronically ill. If you start having respiratory symptoms, self-isolate.

If you have symptoms

If you have COVID-19, or think you might have it, help prevent spreading it to others. Follow the instructions on preventing spread and getting medical care:

Common symptoms for COVID-19 include

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. This is known as the incubation period. If you are unsure about your symptoms, use the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool. If you still have questions or concerns, contact HealthLinkBC (8-1-1) at any time.

If your symptoms are severe, such as difficulty breathing or chest pain, call (9-1-1) or go to your nearest Emergency Department.

Self-Isolation

The BC Ministry of Health strongly urges anyone who has symptoms to self-isolate for 10 days after symptoms start. Symptoms include a fever, cough, sneezing or sore throat. Self-isolation means staying home and limiting your contact with others to help lower the chance of spreading the disease. Self-isolate for 14 days if you have no symptoms but might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

If your symptoms worsen, for example you have mild shortness of breath, contact your health care provider or HealthLinkBC (8-1-1) at any time. If you are going to visit your health care provider, call them ahead of time so they can arrange for you to be assessed safely. Wear a mask in order to protect others.

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has information about self-isolation, self-monitoring and who needs to take these precautions:

For more information on self-isolation see:

Plan ahead and prepare for what you will do if you or a family member becomes sick and needs care. For more information on being prepared see:

Testing

Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. If you have no symptoms, mild symptoms or are a returning traveller and isolating at home, you do not require a test. For information on testing see:

For more information about screening and assessment for the public in your community, see

People with COVID-19 in your household

If you live in the same household with someone who has COVID-19 or has respiratory symptoms that started within 14 days of returning to Canada, you are at high risk of exposure. Self-isolate at home for 14 days. If possible, stay in separate rooms, sleep in separate beds and use separate bathrooms.

If you develop mild symptoms, continue to self-isolate at home for 10 days after your symptoms started.

Recovery and ending self-isolation

On the 10th day after your symptoms first started, if your only remaining symptom is a cough and you feel better, you can stop self-isolation. A cough can last for a few weeks but you are no longer contagious.

On day 10, if you still have symptoms other than a cough, continue to self-isolate until you no longer have these symptoms.

Reduce your risk of infection

Coronavirus is spread from an infected person through

  • Respiratory droplets spread when a person coughs or sneezes
  • Close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

It is important to keep about 2 metres away from a person who is sick, to reduce breathing in droplets if they cough or sneeze.

Wash hands and clean often:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Using soap and water is the single most effective way to reduce the spread of infection
  • If a sink is not available, you can use alcohol based hand rubs (ABHR) to clean your hands as long as they are not visibly soiled. If they are visibly soiled, use a wipe and then ABHR to effectively clean them
  • Do not touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Do not share food, drinks, utensils, etc.

General cleaning:

  • Water and detergent (e.g. liquid dishwashing soap) or common household cleaning wipes can be used
  • Clean surfaces at least once a day. Clean surfaces that are touched often (e.g., counters, tables, doorknobs, toilets, sinks, taps, etc.) at least twice a day
  • Apply firm pressure while cleaning

For more information on proper hand washing see

Wearing a mask

  • Wear a mask if you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing). This helps to prevent spreading the illness
  • If you are not  sick, it may be less useful to wear a mask

Food safety

There is no evidence that COVID-19 spreads through food made by infected people. Eating contaminated food is not considered to be a means of spreading the virus. It is still important to use good hygiene practices when you purchase food or prepare meals. This includes

  • Washing your hands before and after preparing food
  • After handling any raw foods
  • Before eating foods

For more information see

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Many of the symptoms can be managed at home. Drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest and use a humidifier or hot shower to ease a cough or sore throat. Over the counter medication (e.g. Tylenol) can be used to reduce fever and aches. If you are recording your temperature, do this before taking fever-reducing medicines or wait 4 hours after the last dose.

Most people recover from coronaviruses on their own. People who develop a more serious illness may need supportive care in or out of the hospital. If you do need to see a health care provider, call them ahead of time so they can arrange for you to be assessed safely. Wear a mask to protect others.

When seeing a health care provider, please tell them

  • Your symptoms
  • Where you have been travelling or living
  • If you had direct contact with animals (for example, if you visited a live animal market)
  • If you had close contact with a sick person, especially if they had a fever, cough or difficulty breathing

For more information on what you can do if you have symptoms, see:

Finding care

For more information on finding a health care provider see

Developing a vaccine for a COVID-19

When a disease is new such as COVID-19, there is no vaccine until one is developed. Possible vaccines are under investigation. It can take time to develop a new vaccine.

Health care providers and caregivers

Learn more about what to do if you are a health care provider or if you are caring for someone who is sick.

Pregnant Women and COVID-19

Pregnancy does not increase the risk of getting COVID-19. Pregnant women should follow the same self-isolation guidelines as everyone in the community. If a woman becomes ill during her pregnancy, proper assessment should be done by a health care provider.

Learn more about assessment for pregnant women for COVID-19:

Vulnerable populations

If you are an older adult, have an underlying medical condition, or face insecure economic or housing conditions, you are at higher risk of getting an infection. For more information see:

Information for parents

Information for workers and businesses

Health authority information

For information about COVID-19 from your local health authority, see:

Useful resources

BC Centre for Disease Control

BCCDC provides health promotion and prevention services, and diagnostic and treatment services. They work to reduce communicable and chronic disease, preventable injury and environmental health risks. BCCDC also provides analytical and policy support to government and health authorities.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)

The Public Health Agency of Canada promotes health, prevents and controls chronic diseases and injuries and infectious diseases. The PHAC responds to public health emergencies. For more information about COVID-19, including travel advisories, see

World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization provides leadership on global health matters. The WHO monitors and assesses health issues such as COVID-19, provides technical support to countries and sets health standards. For more information about 2019-nCoV, see:

If you have concerns or questions about your health contact HealthLinkBC (8-1-1) at any time or speak with your health care provider.

Last updated: March 26, 2020

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