Could rapid testing save lives in long-term care?
VANCOUVER -- There’s a whole lot of rapid-test kits in B.C.
About 1.3 million of them, according to the B.C. Care Providers Association.
And while rapid tests are being used, for example, in remote areas where quick access to test results isn’t possible, the association says they should be used more frequently in long-term care homes to routinely screen workers.
“We’re seeing more and more that there are expert panels around the world using rapid testing as a screening device,” says Terry Lake who speaks for the association.
He says even Health Canada’s own expert advisory panel recently recommended the use of rapid testing as part of a series of testing strategies in some settings, including care facilities. He says the World Health Organization came out with a similar recommendation a few weeks ago.
“If we’ve got a million tests sitting around, tell us where we can pick them up and we’ll get busy and start doing them,” Lake said in an interview with CTV News.
But the health minister maintains there are concerns over the reliability of the tests.
“Its partly an issue of the accuracy of the test which Dr. Henry has spoken to many, many, many times in addition to the… investment of staff and effort to test which is considerable and makes it not realistic to do the kind of testing that some people have been suggesting could be done,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix on Tuesday.
Vancouver Coastal Health has launched a pilot project with rapid testing at a number of care homes.
“We’ve learned that at least one person in long-term care and two people in acute care were picked up,” Lake said.
CTV News asked the health minister about what the pilot project testing had revealed so far, but he did provide any detailed information.
Tabor Home in Abbotsford had 26 residents die during a recent COVID-19 outbreak.
The executive director, Dan Levitt, said it’s believed the virus got into the home through a worker who wasn’t showing symptoms.
“If we had had rapid testing in that particular case, it’s possible we could have prevented what happened at Tabor Home,” Levitt said.
“It would be that extra layer of protection having rapid testing.”
Levitt says the outbreak was tragic on so many levels.
“We’ll never forget the lives that were lost,” he told CTV News.