Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company’s lab, in Surrey, B.C., March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. opens up COVID-19 testing to track community infections

If you have symptoms, call doctor or 8-1-1, Bonnie Henry says

Detection of coronavirus-infected workers returning to B.C. from an oil sands project in northern Alberta is one example of why public health officials have opened up testing to broader community cases, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

“Right now, anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 can now be assessed and tested, through your family physician,” Henry said at her daily briefing April 20. “If you have your nurse practitioner or a local community collection centre, you can call 8-1-1 to find out where those are.”

Primary symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath, key indicators of the novel coronavirus that can cause a range of illness from mild symptoms to life-threatening pneumonia-like conditions.

“While everyone can get tested, not everyone needs to get tested,” Henry said. “That’s very important. If you do not have symptoms, this test has very limited benefit and is not necessarily valid.”

The other key indicator for requesting a test is you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or has been associated with one of the outbreaks that have been identified. The most recent one is Imperial Oil employees returning to B.C. from working at the Kearl Lake oil sands mine and processing plant north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Seven people in B.C. have tested positive in B.C. from that group, and their family members and contacts are being followed up.

RELATED: B.C. finds seven oil sands workers with COVID-19

RELATED: B.C.’s latest COVID-19 modelling shows spread slowing

“Now is the time where we’ve broadened again our testing so we have a better idea of anyone in our community who may have COVID-19 going forward,” Henry said.

Henry first signalled the change in testing strategy when she and Health Minister Adrian Dix released B.C.’s second batch of disease modelling on April 17. It showed B.C’s testing focused broadly in the early days to detect returning travellers from China, Iran and other hot spots, then as of March 15 adding daily tests of health care workers after a series of outbreaks at senior care homes.

As of April 9 the testing became broader to find community transmission cases and get a better reading on the general population’s exposure.

B.C.’s Centre for Disease Control tracks its testing and other coronavirus data on an online dashboard. As of April 21, it shows a total of 64,375 tests, with 930 completed April 20.

B.C.’s current testing rate is 10,999 per million people, compared to 14,780 per million in Canada as a whole, with Quebec and Ontario grappling with much higher numbers of cases testing positive.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey student earns TD Community Leadership scholarship

Harjot Bal recognized for his One Blood For Life Foundation

Suspect sought in alleged indecent act in South Surrey

Police say incident occurred near 13 Avenue and 131 Street

‘Pods’ set up at Surrey homeless centre

Temporary shelter set up in April to help stop the spread of COVID-19

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

New Serpentine rail bridge completed in Cloverdale-Sullivan

$3 million crossing replacement marks first of 13 flood-mitigation projects

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read

l -->