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B.C.'s COVID-19 testing ramp-up experiencing delays as demand surges

Last Updated Aug 19, 2020 at 12:40 pm PDT

FILE - A Fraser Health healthcare worker tests a patient at a drive through COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., Monday, April 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. aims to increase COVID-19 testings

Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reka Gustafson admits there have been delays increasing testing capacity

The province plans to double current testing levels by November

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As COVID-19 cases rise, so does the demand for testing as the province aims to increase capacity.

Over 10,000 British Columbians were tested for the coronavirus over the weekend, and Lower Mainland testing sites have seen hours-long lineups of cars gather in recent days.

Despite claiming that B.C. can handle 8,000 tests per day, the highest actual number of daily tests performed is less than half that.

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While Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reka Gustafson admits there have been delays in ramping up testing capacity, she says work has begun.

“Health authorities are, at the moment, looking at their demands for testing and ensuring that the availability of testing is increased in every region in every health authority,” she says.

“We have had a rapid increase in the demand for testing over the last few weeks. So, the last week or so. we are seeing a delay in the ramp-up of that capacity.”

Gustafson says this also includes increasing testing in the laboratories where specimens are sent, which she says is already underway.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says it didn’t make sense to have the capacity to take 5,000 tests at a location when only 2,000 people show up each day. But now the province is responding as demand grows.

The province is aiming to double its current testing capacity as we get into November.

B.C. saw 100 cases in a 24-hour period for the first time over the weekend, and health officials have warned stricter enforcement of COVID-19 rules is on the way.

-With files from Marcella Bernardo