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

A German word blitzes the English language

World O’ Words: Lightning quick, on offense and defense

Top Cranbrook administration official resigns

CAO David Kim, who has been on medical leave since last summer, is leaving the City of Cranbrook

Mt. Baker RV Park in Cranbrook reopens

Just in time for summer, the Mount Baker RV Park in downtown… Continue reading

Cranbrook businesses come together to donate vehicle to Ekklesia Millennium Society

The Jeep will help the society to deliver meals to those in need throughout the community

City seeking budget, services feedback through survey

The city wants to know how satisfied residents are with service levels… Continue reading

WATCH: Cranbrook Farmer’s Market kicks off 2020 season

The first market of the year took place on Saturday, May 30.

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Most Read