British Columbia

Fewer COVID-19 tests in B.C. could be driving lower case numbers, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Daily COVID-19 case numbers have been declining in B.C., but Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says fewer people getting tested could be driving that trend.

Provincial health officer says the reasons why people aren't getting tested are 'worrisome'

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the reasons why some might avoid getting tested for COVID-19 during the holidays are 'worrisome.' (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Daily COVID-19 case numbers have been declining in B.C., but Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says fewer people getting tested could be driving that trend.

Case numbers provided Tuesday, covering a five-day reporting period, were the lowest in British Columbia since early November and continued a downward trend B.C. has been seeing since restrictions took effect province-wide in late November. 

But the number of tests done over those five days dropped by around 50 per cent compared to the same period in the previous week. Just 4,675 tests were completed in the last 24 hours, compared to 8,515 on Dec. 22.

"We expect testing to go up this week and it is likely that we'll see more cases," Henry said.

"Partly it's people don't want to be tested and have to isolate before this holiday, which is worrisome because we know that people are getting together — some people — and even if it's just your household ... you may bring this into your household and spread it to them."

Some of the decline in testing could be due to private testing at places like film productions taking a pause. At the same time, new case counts have declined over the last five days at the same rate they were dropping before the holidays began. 

Henry reiterated the importance of keeping to COVID-19 health orders and guidelines: wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, maintaining physical distances and not socializing with anyone outside of one's own household.

Maintaining COVID-19 vigilance, she said, will be crucial with New Year's Eve just days away and the United Kingdom coronavirus variant now appearing in Canada.

"We need to all take a step back," Henry said. "We know that people are compelled to be with each other during celebrations and we need to support each other to stay apart and connect with each other safely."

A COVID-19 vaccination site in Vancouver. Henry said with vaccines arriving in the province, British Columbians need to maintain public health guidelines as the most vulnerable receive their vaccinations. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

With files from Justin McElroy

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