VANCOUVER -- For the doctors and researchers who work at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there has never been a time like this.

“COVID is probably the most complicated epidemic that none of us in the world would have ever planned for,” says Dr. Mel Krajden, medical director for centre.

This week, CTV News was given an exclusive look into the work being done at the BCCDC during the pandemic.

It’s a place where labs could be likened to war rooms, with the enemy a mysterious virus.

And the weapon they’re using to fight it is science.

“We provide guidance to Dr. (Bonnie) Henry and her team to help inform how one responds to COVID,” Krajden explained.

The BCCDC tests about 1,500 samples a day from people suspected of having COVID-19, but during the height of B.C.’s surge, they were testing around the clock. In one weekend in mid-March, 5,000 tests were performed.

Each respiratory sample has to be treated with caution.

“That’s why the samples are handled under the bio-safety cabinet. Our technologists are in full personal protective equipment and gear,” explains Dr. Linda Hoang of the BCCDC.

Scientists here were watching the development of COVID-19 before it ever arrived on B.C.’s doorstep.

“We were aware of a novel respiratory pathogen circulating in Wuhan, China back in December and we were watching it very closely,” says Hoang.

When the BCCDC got to work on a test for the coronavirus, it only took researchers 10 days to develop it.

The first positive case came in B.C. on Jan. 27.

One-hundred and forty people in our province have now died of COVID-19, five in the last 24 hours.

With lives on the line, the work of disease control experts is crucial.

“It’s tiring. It is very difficult to think through all the complicated pieces that have to come together,” says Krajden.

One of his colleagues, Dr. Muhammad Morshed agrees everyone is working hard.

“I know it’s lots of pressure but for scientists like me it is also an exciting phase of life,” he says.