B.C. adapting testing strategy: Dr. Henry says more community testing coming
VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s top health official says the province's COVID-19 testing strategy is meant to follow epidemiological evidence and adapt to the situation, and with influenza season ending soon, that will mean more tests in the community.
At first, the strategy was to test patients linked to international travel, then the focus shifted to heatlh-care workers and high-risk populations such as care home residents.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a press conference in Victoria Wednesday that testing capacity has grown because testing has decreased. She noted a number of reasons for that decline, including that the number of respiratory infections is down. She has previously noted tests on asymptomatic people are not considered reliable.
She said the earlier COVID testing revealed an infection rate of about one per cent. When tests were targeted to higher-risk populations, it was around six or seven per cent, meaning the bulk of people being tseted came back with negative results.
“We have changed our strategy as we've seen the numbers decreasing in the populations that we've been targeting over the last two weeks in particular, we're starting to increase the number of people that we're testing in the community and for physicians to be able to test more broadly now as well,” Dr. Henry said.
Part of the reason behind that is there is more capacity, and part of it is because anyone showing signs of respiratory illness now, she said, has a higher likelihood of having COVID-19.
Dr. Henry added the strategy all along has been to adapt to the virus’ spread in the community.
“We do expect that our testing numbers will go up again in the near future. And we'll be looking again at making sure that we're identifying any clusters in our communities, we're still doing that and particularly in areas of the province where there's not been a lot of community transmission.”