Rapid testing begins in some B.C. care homes, as critics argue program should be more widespread
VANCOUVER -- As a second wave of COVID-19 devastates long-term care facilities in B.C., a new program has been launched to use rapid testing to screen some care home workers.
But critics say the program should be much more widespread.
The pilot project that offers voluntary testing to asymptomatic workers is being used in a handful of long-term care homes in Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health.
BC Seniors Advocate Isobel MacKenzie says it’s a good start, but doesn’t go far enough.
“I think we could be doing some more care homes more quickly. We’ve still got some time before we get the vaccine,” MacKenzie said.
According to Health Minister Adrian Dix, active long-term outbreaks in B.C. currently involve more than 1,400 people.
That includes Tabor Home in Abbotsford, which is facing the worst outbreak in the Fraser Health region. An email to families says 24 residents have now died. In total, more than 150 residents and staff have tested positive since the outbreak began.
The BC Liberals are calling for province-wide rapid testing in seniors’ facilities.
“What is the harm in looking at a province-wide rapid testing program if it even adds a simple extra layer of protection for vulnerable seniors? The time for that action is now,” said Liberal Interim Leader Shirley Bond.
But Dix says there’s a reason they are moving slowly on rapid testing.
“In general, the testing of asymptomatic people has not been that helpful, anywhere. And we’ve seen this in Canada as well. So we’re doing a couple pilot projects to see if there’s some way they can be integrated into what we’re doing,” he explained.