Why B.C. won't be rapid testing for COVID-19 in long term care homes | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why B.C. won't be rapid testing for COVID-19 in long term care homes

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
November 23, 2020 - 5:00 PM

Testing long term care workers for COVID-19 every day when they go to work is not worth doing, says Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Both the B.C. Seniors Advocate and the B.C. Care Providers Association have said rapid testing would help stop the virus from getting into care homes.

“Where this has been done in other provinces, it is not a panacea,” Dr. Henry said during her news briefing today, Nov. 23. “It is not what is going to solve all our issues because the tests have faults and limitations and you would have to test everybody every day.

“And yes, they do do it in some sectors for short periods of time but the yield and the volume of testing that would require are not at the point where it would be helpful to us instead of the regular screening we’re doing every day.”

There are not enough test kits available to do such testing in B.C., she also noted.

Part of the problem is that COVID-19 is often carried into care homes – or other workplaces – by people who do not have symptoms or don’t realize that they have symptoms.

“We had a lot of really high hopes for some of these rapid tests,” Dr. Henry said. “But, what they’re showing is, that period of time where people are sometimes most infectious, just before they start to show symptoms, is also the period of time when the tests work least well.”

Both the Senior’s Advocate and Care Providers Association have said that there are no documented cases of COVID-19 entering care homes through visitors. It mostly is carried by staff who are out in the community.

READ MORE: Rapid testing in long term care homes is essential for reducing the spread of COVID-19, new reports say

“The risk in our care homes is proportionate to the risk in our community,” Dr. Henry said. “We have to be very mindful that we, as health care workers, . . . watch what we are doing in the community so that we don’t take on risk from some of the social interactions that we then take into work. That’s something, right now, we absolutely need to focus on.”

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