COVID-19 testing still targeted at health system, identifying transmission in B.C. | Squamish Chief

COVID-19 testing still targeted at health system, identifying transmission in B.C.

VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor says testing for COVID-19 remains focused on the health-care system and identifying chains of transmission, rather than the broader public.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says there has been some testing where clusters of the disease have been identified across the province and people who were exposed are unclear whether or not they have symptoms.

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But she says broader testing of healthy people with no symptoms won't be a part of the province's strategy until B.C. reaches the "down side" of the curve in the virus's spread, which has yet to happen.

Henry says physical distancing is still critically important and announced 92 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. on Saturday, for a total of 884.

There has been one additional death and 81 people are hospitalized, including 52 in intensive care, while nearly 400 people in B.C. have recovered after contracting COVID-19.

Henry says the recovery rate is quite high because many of the people affected by early outbreaks in long-term care facilities were younger health-care workers who experienced milder disease that didn't last as long.

"Nationally, we've agreed that there's criteria for when people can be considered recovered. For people who have not been hospitalized, who have mild disease, we are now considering them recovered when they are symptom-free (for 10 days)," said Henry.

The criteria of two negative tests completed 24 hours apart is still being used for people who are immunocompromised, as well as people who were hospitalized or experienced more severe illness as a result of the new coronavirus.

London Drugs also announced Saturday afternoon that one of its pharmacy staff members at the location at Georgia and Granville streets in downtown Vancouver tested positive for COVID-19.

The company said the individual was asymptomatic when they last worked at the store on March 18, and they are now in self-isolation at home.

It said the location will reopen as soon as health officials give the go-ahead, and in the meantime, customers can have their prescription delivered or pick it up from the store on Robson Street near Bute Street.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2020.

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