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

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Dry-grad cancelled, Elgin Park students make donation to food bank

Students donate $1,800 to food bank after being forced to cancel graduation event

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MAY 23: There is an outbreak at a Lower Mainland fruit processing plant

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read