Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found mostly in animals. In humans, they can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). The illness caused by the 2019 coronavirus has been named COVID-19. Learn more about COVID-19, including information on testing and prevention.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. It is spread mostly from person to person.
Most people who get COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate illness and will not require hospital care. Some people are more likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 and require medical attention. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent serious outcomes.
In B.C., A COVID-19 test is recommended when a positive or negative result will inform decisions about treatment or care. Testing is recommended for people with symptoms of COVID-19 and who are:
- at risk of more severe disease and may benefit from treatment
Otherwise, If you have symptoms of any respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, influenza, RSV or other coronaviruses, stay home until you feel better.
- Stay home and away from others until your fever is gone (without using medicines that reduce fever, like Tylenol), and you feel well enough to participate in daily activities. There is no required self-isolation period.
- Avoid close contact with others, especially people at higher risk of severe illness or complications from respiratory infections.
- If you cannot avoid close contact with others, take other preventive measures, such as wearing a mask in indoor spaces and cleaning your hands regularly.
Accessing other COVID-19 care
If you are unsure whether you should get a COVID-19 test, use the COVID-19 self-assessment, contact your health-care provider or call 8-1-1. If you are at greater risk of severe disease you can get a PCR test from your physician or nurse practitioner, at a walk-in clinic, or at an Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC). If you experience any symptoms such as loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing or chest pain, do not delay in seeking treatment. Visit your local emergency department or call 9-1-1.
Information for health-care providers
Family doctor and nurse practitioner offices who intend to administer COVID-19 PCR testing from their clinic location can access appropriate supplies through their usual clinical supply chains. For those not providing testing services on-site, LifeLab sites operating in the VCH region accept laboratory requisitions from health-care providers for COVID-19 testing. Please note on the requisition that this is a “COVID-19 MSP PCR test.”
COVID-19 prevention and risks
We have many tools, such as vaccines, treatments and our own actions that can protect us from the impacts of COVID-19.
You can determine how and when to use these tools while supporting your family’s overall physical and mental health. These tools will help everyone be safer from COVID-19 and other illnesses, and they are even more important if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.