COVID-19 Update for Patients
A new coronavirus is the cause of an outbreak of respiratory infection, now known as COVID-19. The number of cases worldwide is changing quickly. B.C. has confirmed cases of coronavirus. However, the risk to Canadians continues to be low.
What you need to know:
- Stay home while you are sick just as when you have a flu. Do not go to work or school. Cancel all non-urgent appointments. However, you can still leave home for essential needs, such as getting groceries. If you do go out while being sick, it is best you wear a mask (see point #2 below). Your doctor may provide you with a sick leave note excusing you from work or school.
- Wear a face mask when you are in the same room with other people or visiting a healthcare facility. Once your mask gets wet or dirty, change it. Please note, a face mask refers to a surgical/procedure mask. N95 respirator mask for airborne diseases is not required.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home. Stay in a well-ventilated room separately from other people. Use a separate bathroom if available. Use a face mask in shared spaces. The members of your household should stay in another place of residence if possible. Restrict visitors. However, it is ok to have friends/family drop off food or you can use delivery/pick up services for errands such as grocery shopping.
- Do not prepare food for others in your household.
- Avoid sharing household items such as dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with people in your home. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough/sneeze or use your sleeve instead. Throw used tissues into a lined trash can placed in your room. Dispose it with other household waste. Immediately wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use disposable paper towels when possible. For more information on handwashing see https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/hand-washing. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based sanitizer. However, always wash your hands with soap and water after using a toilet. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Flush toilet with the lid down. The virus may also be present in stool.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables once a day using a regular household disinfectant or solution containing 1 part of bleach to 9 parts of water.
- Notify a healthcare facility before you visit. Call ahead of time a healthcare facility and advise them that you have or are being tested for novel coronavirus. Also be sure to inform a healthcare provider on your arrival. This will help healthcare facility to take steps necessary to keep other people from becoming infected.
- Monitor your symptoms. Seek medical attention if you have trouble breathing, are unable to tolerate fluids or if your illness is worsening. Notify healthcare facility and healthcare provider (e.g. emergency departments, ambulance paramedics, doctor’s offices) before you visit.
Self-monitoring means looking for new symptoms or signs of coronavirus infection such as fever, cough, sore throat, etc. If you develop symptoms, contact 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319) or your healthcare provider. If your symptoms are severe, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Department
- Watch for the appearance of symptoms, particularly fever and respiratory symptoms such as cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath
- Take and record temperature daily avoiding the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g., acetaminophen, ibuprofen) as much possible. These medications could mask the early symptoms of COVID-19. If those must be taken, you should advise a healthcare provider.
If symptoms appear
- Symptoms of COVID-19 are like other respiratory illnesses. Commonly, these are fever/chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose. Shortness of breath and chest pain can be signs of severe illness.
- Contact your healthcare provider or call 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319) for guidance. If the symptoms are severe such as shortness of breath or chest pain, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Department
- Ensure that you self-isolate immediately and avoid contact with others. This means staying away from others as much as possible
- Wash your hands or use alcohol-based sanitizer frequently
- Practice good hygiene such as covering your cough and sneezing into disposable tissue
- Clean high-touch areas such as toilets, bedside tables and door handles with diluted bleach (one-part of bleach to nine-parts of water) or a household disinfectant.
How to self-isolate if you live with other people
It is better if those you live with can stay somewhere else, especially if they have a weak immune system or chronic health conditions. If you need to share a home, stay and sleep in a room with good airflow that is away from others. Use a separate bathroom if you can. Wear a face mask (surgical/procedure mask) if you are in the same room with anyone. Avoid face to face contact. Friends or family can drop off food outside your room or home.
Testing is recommended for patients with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, however mild. Symptoms may include: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, odynophagia (painful swallowing), rhinorrhea (runny nose), nasal congestion (stuffy nose), loss of sense of smell, headache, muscle aches, 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.
- Using the B.C. COVID-19 Collection Centre finder (for mobile and desktop)
- Using B.C. COVID-19 Collection Centre finder for Internet Explorer
- Calling 8-1-1
- Using the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool
Individuals in the following groups should be prioritized for testing:
- Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
- Individuals 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
- Individuals with a higher probability of being infected with COVID-19 such as contacts of a known case of COVID-19 and travellers just returned to Canada
- Residents of remote, isolated, or Indigenous communities
- People living in congregate settings such as work-camps, correctional facilities, shelters, group homes, assisted living and seniors’ residences
- People who are homeless or have unstable housing
Essential service providers, such as first responders
In addition, healthcare providers can order a COVID-19 test for any patient based on their clinical judgment and medical health officers may recommend testing for others.
Who does not need to be tested for COVID-19?
If an individual has no symptoms, even if they are a contact of a confirmed case or a returning traveller and self-isolating at home, they do not require a test.
Please refer to the clinical guidance for outpatient management.
Please advise patients, with or without a history of travel, who have respiratory symptoms that can be managed at home, to isolate at home for a minimum of 10 days after onset of their symptoms or at least 14 days for travellers returning to Canada. More information for patients is available on the If you are sick page.
What about household contact of a patient with respiratory symptoms?
Below you can find more information about COVID-19, including symptoms, health precautions, travel precautions, and regular updates on the situation in Canada.
Visit the Vancouver Coastal health: http://www.vch.ca/about-us/news/vancouver-coastal-health-statement-on-coronavirus
BC COVID-19 Support App
The BC Government has launched a COVID-19 support App to help provide residents with the latest information on the ongoing pandemic. The app can be downloaded through the Apple Store or Google Play and is also available as a website online here.
Besides acting as a platform for posting information and alerts, the app also features the B.C. government’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool that can help residents decide if they need to seek coronavirus testing.
The BC Centre for Disease Control information:
Government of Canada information:
- About Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/being-prepared.html#a2
- Travel advice: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html
- Community-based measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/public-health-measures-mitigate-covid-19.html