British Columbia

Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. focusing COVID-19 testing 'where it makes the most difference'

CBC News has heard from numerous British Columbians who say they have symptoms of COVID-19 and unexplained sources of potential transmission, but are unable to get tested.

Top doctor says those with mild symptoms and unexplained sources of transmission may not be tested

B.C. is conducting 3,500 COVID-19 tests each day. (Christophe Ena/Associated Press)

B.C.'s provincial health officer has clarified the province's strategy for COVID-19 testing, saying the approach right now is to focus on protecting the health-care system.

On Tuesday, Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters that "we are absolutely testing and contact-tracing anybody for whom we don't know the source of their infection."

But CBC News has heard in recent days from numerous British Columbians who say they have symptoms of the disease and unexplained sources of potential transmission but have been unable to get tested.

Henry spelled out B.C.'s approach in more detail on Wednesday, saying the criteria for testing depend on where patients are located, what the local health authority knows about clusters of COVID-19 cases and how severe the person's illness is.

"We are focusing on where it makes the most difference," Henry said. "We are focusing on health-care workers, we're focusing on the health system — so people in long-term care or people who are in hospital are or likely to be in hospital."

That means that sometimes people who may have contracted the virus through community transmission won't be tested.

"For the most part, if you have a mild illness and it can be managed at home and you're in isolation and you're not going to pass it on to others, you may or may not be tested depending on whether there's a cluster that's detected around you," Henry said.

B.C. is now conducting about 3,500 tests every day.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

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