There are 3 types of results for a COVID-19 (coronavirus) PCR or antigen test:
- positive (COVID-19 found)
- negative (COVID-19 not detected)
- indeterminate, invalid or inhibitory
Positive test result
A positive test result means that the virus was found in your sample.
If you get a positive test result for COVID-19, you need to stay at home for 5 days and avoid contact with other people.
Children under age 18 need to stay at home for 3 days.
If you have a positive (detected) antigen test result, you need to report your positive antigen result.
Negative test result
A negative test result means that the virus was not found in your sample.
It does not mean that you definitely do not have COVID-19. It just means that the virus was not found in the sample.
If you have a negative (not detected) antigen test result, you need to report your negative antigen result.
Invalid test result
A test sample for COVID-19 may not always give a clear result. This is called an invalid result. It means that the test could not detect if you have COVID-19.
An invalid test result means that the test could not detect if you have COVID-19.
If you have an invalid antigen test result, do another test.
Inhibitory or indeterminate PCR test result
An inhibitory results from a PCR test means a small amount of the virus was found, but not enough to test positive.
An indeterminate result from a PCR test means there was not enough sample to test or the test could not be validated.
If you have an invalid, inhibitory or indeterminate PCR test result, your clinician will probably ask you to do another test.