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

Mary Lowther column: Growing out your own seeds

Some crops like tomatoes don’t cross pollinate well

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Buyers across the province will soon be able to pick up a… Continue reading

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 101 km/h in a construction zone

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Shellfish industry get funds to clean up at Island sites and beyond

Businesses can apply to cover half of costs to clean up so-called ‘ghost gear’

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Most Read