‘Blindly going forward’: Urgent call for more COVID-19 testing as B.C. sees waits of hours or days

Vancouver –

Amid rising stories of prolonged waits for COVID-19 testing and hovering case numbers involving youngsters, the previous head of the B.C. Centre for Illness Management is urging officers to extend surveillance within the province.

From waits of as much as three hours in North Vancouver to days-long waits for appointments in some rural areas, a rising variety of complaints have been reported from annoyed test-seekers. The stories started within the Inside Well being and Northern Well being areas two weeks in the past, however have since unfold to the Decrease Mainland and Vancouver Island.

“We have been ramping up as quick as we are able to,” insisted provincial well being officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a press convention on Tuesday.

However a comparability of the BCCDC’s itemizing of COVID-19 assortment websites on Sept. 28 confirmed 100 areas province-wide, the identical quantity as Sept. 17, with almost all areas outdoors Metro Vancouver requiring an appointment prematurely and widespread stories of individuals unable to ebook one.

“A lot of people when they call a doctor or medical professional are actually discouraged from getting tested. (They’re told to) just stay home and don’t go out and risk transmitting it to other people,” mentioned UBC Faculty of Inhabitants and Public Well being professor, Dr. Mark Tyndall. “When there’s this many infections which are circulating proper now which are being detected, I feel it is a sizable underestimation of the variety of individuals which are really contaminated.”

Henry was defensive when requested if the lengthy waits for testing counsel public well being doesn’t have a dependable indication of how a lot virus is circulating in the neighborhood.

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“I do think we have a pretty good handle on it, it’s been a challenge and there’s a couple ways we look at surveillance over time,” she said. “The bottom line is yes, it’s important to get tested, it’s important to self-isolate and to stay away from others if you have symptoms at all.”


Although he’s now occupied together with his instructing place at UBC, Tyndall is an infectious illness specialist who was the earlier head of the BCCDC and one-time deputy provincial well being officer.

He believes B.C.’s low testing fee has seen a long-term under-counting of COVID-19 infections, and he is urging public well being to undertake fast exams for workplaces, colleges and medical doctors’ places of work whereas dramatically increasing lab-confirmed PCR testing, significantly within the wake of the spike in infections amongst youngsters.

“I think opening the schools is a big experiment and we should at the very least be quite vigilant in testing people, and I think governments really need to put a priority on making tests easily accessible — people shouldn’t be lined up,” he said. “We’re blindly going forward and the concern is we have a large number of kids being potentially exposed and transmitting it around their classrooms and bringing it home.”

There are solely 10 testing areas for all of Fraser Well being, which serves a inhabitants of 1.9 million individuals, and just one location in Surrey. There are none to serve the UBC inhabitants, just one location in Richmond and it is positioned at Sea Island, and only one in Burnaby to serve that metropolis, New Westminster and Simon Fraser College. As late as 7 p.m. Tuesday, Vancouver’s solely drive-through testing website at St. Vincent nonetheless had an hour-long wait.

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B.C. has persistently lagged behind different provinces and the nationwide common in per-capita testing, with conflicting and contradictory standards at instances. This week, nonetheless, knowledge from the Public Well being Company reveals that B.C. carried out 276 exams per 100,000 residents in comparison with 219 for Ontario and 345 in Alberta; the nationwide common was 281 per 100,000.

Different high-profile consultants have urged the province to develop testing all through the pandemic, however Henry has rejected widespread use of fast exams and asymptomatic testing.


CTV Information has spoken with a number of households who described lengthy, irritating waits for exams after growing signs, typically after being in shut contact with confirmed COVID-19 instances; iPads and different leisure strategies are incessantly cited as required gear to maintain youngsters co-operative whereas ready one to 3 hours in line at drive-through testing websites.

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“We noticed this coming in August so it is actually surprising to me that we do not have our testing going, we do not have it simply accessible – it’s baffling to me that we’re 18 months into the pandemic and that is taking place,” mentioned Lindsay Dixon, who tried to make an appointment for her sick four-year-old Monday morning.

The earliest slot she may get close to their Victoria dwelling was Wednesday morning, with the scheduler describing the decision centre as “swamped.”

“It makes me anxious of different households that simply get uninterested in ready or cease looking for testing and simply put their youngsters again in class,” said Dixon. “If we want to keep our economy open and keep parents working, we really need to keep kids safe and healthy in school. If we don’t, the whole economy, everything will come to a grinding halt.”

Jennifer Aldrich went to a North Vancouver testing website Monday afternoon along with her teen and was surprised to see vehicles wrapped across the block and a staffer warning the wait can be three hours. Each are vaccinated however are shut contacts of a confirmed case who now has delicate signs and is self-isolating whereas awaiting take a look at outcomes.

“I definitely think that access is a huge issue,” she mentioned. “It does appear for the time being that the system is just not designed to ask individuals to be examined.”