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Province says rapid testing at long-term care facilities problematic

The province is responding to calls for rapid testing of staff in long-term care homes.

A report commissioned by the BC Care Providers Association says it would be a key tool in containing and identifying outbreaks in those facilities.

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry says those types of tests are just not widely available.

“It is not a panacea,” she added. 

“It is not what is going to solve our issue because the tests have faults and limitations, and you’d have to test everybody every day.

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

Dr. Henry said when there are outbreaks, they test asymptomatic workers as well as the residents in care homes and in long-term care and in the hospitals as needed. 

“We do have protocols that do work,” she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix echoed Dr. Henry’s sentiment: “Places such as the White House used a lot of rapid testing as well, but it is not sufficient of itself and can cause its own problems because of the issues with the tests, themselves.”

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Dr. Henry says “in these challenging times we don’t yet have that type of a test, that we could easily every day have somebody test.”

 Dix says the investment and the effort have been massive, noting that B.C. has the lowest rates of mortality of equivalent jurisdictions of five million people or more in North America. 

“B.C. has by far the lowest rate of mortality in that group of jurisdictions, states and provinces because of the efforts being made in long-term care, which have been massive in terms of PPE, the single-site order and all the other measures that have been put in place,” Dix said.

Dix says he looked through the BCCPA report carefully and the Seniors Advocate’s report in detail.

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“Certainly in the areas they have specialty, we rely on them. And the areas where Dr. Henry and public health have specialty, we rely on public health,” he said. 

You can read the BCCPA’s full report here

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