Looking for a COVID rapid test kit? Don't bother asking Interior Health | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Looking for a COVID rapid test kit? Don't bother asking Interior Health

This sign went up at the Ethel Street COVID testing station within half an hour of it opening today.

Are there COVID rapid tests available in your community? It appears there’s no way of knowing if you’ll be able to pick up a COVID rapid test kit at testing stations and Interior Health hasn't been able to answer the question all week.

On Sunday, an Interior Health news release said the rapid test kits were not available in Kelowna or West Kelowna.

As of yesterday, Jan. 13, there were no kits available at the Ethel Street testing station in Kelowna when iNFOnews.ca dropped in shortly before 10:30 a.m.

About a dozen people were lined up in the parking lot waiting to get a rapid test kit but they quickly left after signs were put up saying no rapid tests were available.

“We had expected a shipment to arrive when we opened at 10 a.m. but the truck was late,” one worker outside near the parking lot told iNFOnews.ca. She said she could not give her name.

A woman in the line-up asked if there was a phone number to call to find out if test kits were available. She was told by a Paladin security guard that there doesn’t appear to be any number to call.

Interior Health does have a COVID phone line (1-877-740-7747) where tests or vaccinations can be booked but it does not include information on rapid test kit availability,

People in the quickly disappearing line-up were told to try again later today or tomorrow.

This lineup at the Ethel Street COVID testing station in Kelowna soon disappeared after signs went up saying no rapid test kits were available.
This lineup at the Ethel Street COVID testing station in Kelowna soon disappeared after signs went up saying no rapid test kits were available.

iNFOnews.ca has been trying to get information about the availability of rapid test kits from Interior Health since Monday.

This is the closest answer we could get.

“Interior Health is monitoring demand for testing across communities, and the supply of rapid antigen tests to our 26 different testing sites is being replenished on a continual basis through the week as stock is available,” said an email from Interior Health’s communications department received yesterday. “Weather and other factors may have an impact on replenishing supplies.”

READ MORE: COVID outbreaks declared in three more care homes in Interior Health

The email did say that 15,000 rapid test kits were distributed in the region last week but the email did not indicate how that compares to demand as Omicron continues to sweep across the province.

“Tests are provided to individuals who are symptomatic and who meet the criteria for testing, following a short clinical assessment,” the email said, noting that appointments can still be made for PCR tests.

“A COVID-19 test is not necessary when: You have no symptoms, even if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive or you are experiencing symptoms and can manage your illness at home,” the Interior Health website says. “Self-isolate until you feel well enough to resume your regular activities. Notify your close contacts so they can self-monitor for symptoms.”

A test may be recommended for people who work in high risk settings or for people who are at risk of more severe illness, the website says.

"We are focusing our PCR tests on people over age 55, people who are pregnant, people working in high-risk settings like hospitals, those in remote and rural communities, and people with higher-risk medical conditions," states an email from the Ministry of Health. "Given the high case levels we are currently seeing in B.C. we are also using rapid tests to supplement our testing strategy and to slow or stop outbreaks."

Since the number of rapid test kits are limited right now, they're being used for those who need them most.

"If you are fully vaccinated, at lower risk and have mild symptoms, you don’t need to take a test at this time but rather treat it as if you have COVID-19 and stay at home and isolate until you feel better," the email says.

For more information on risk factors and to book appointments, go here.

The online booking portal shows plenty of available appointment times today in the region’s five largest cities.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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