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B.C. sets COVID-19 daily testing record, cases levelling off, says top doctor

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Oct 2, 2020 at 1:59 pm PDT

FILE - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Courtesy B.C. Government, Flickr)
Summary

The province set a record Wednesday with more than 10,000 COVID-19 tests

Of the record 10,899 tests, 82 were positive for the coronavirus, or fewer than one per cent

Changes being considered for visitation at care homes

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The province set a record Wednesday with more than 10,000 COVID-19 tests in one day, while according to the province’s top doctor, cases are leveling off.

Of the record 10,899 tests, 82 were positive for the coronavirus, or fewer than one per cent.

“And I think that’s just an incredible feat, as our laboratories have been ramping up across the province,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.

“I know there have been some challenges in some places, but this really speaks to the amazing work that people are doing across the province to make sure that we can get people to testing they need as quickly as possible.”

In February, the first COVID-19 test was launched at St. Paul’s Hospital, with a capacity for 368 a day. By March, the province was conducting 2,000 tests a day. Then in April, the capacity in B.C. exceeded 6,200 tests a day, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Henry added COVID-19 is still being transmitted in social settings, mostly private homes, making up about a third of new cases. Spread also continues at workplaces, care homes and hospitals, she said.

“But we’re now seeing smaller clusters, and we’re seeing our numbers level off, so the number of people a single person will transmit to has gone down, which is good news for us and it means that people are doing the things that we need them to do.”

With more than 20,000 negative tests conducted in the past two days, Henry admitted getting results back to people has been a bit of a struggle.

“What I am confident in is when a positive test comes up we are on that very quickly within 24 hours and the person is identified,” she said.

“We have had some challenges in some parts of the province with getting the negative test results out in a timely way.”

Henry said that is related to different lab platforms in various parts of the province sharing information.

“We are absolutely working on that to streamline it,” she added.

However, she said the low number of positive tests shows contact tracers are doing a good job at finding people and that cases are levelling off again.

The positivity rate for tests exceeded five per cent on some days in April, and averaged about two per cent early in September, but has fallen below that this week, according to the centre for disease control.

“Our case counts are low, but those are the people we know about,” Henry said.

The key to limiting transmission of the virus remains reducing the risk, such as keeping groups small, she added.

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“We know that it’s transmitted through people in the community, so we can’t get rid of that risk altogether, and I certainly had hopes about that months ago, but that’s not the case now,” she said.

The province also reported one death from COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total in B.C. to 235 since the start of the pandemic.

The death occurred in the Fraser Health Authority.

Henry also said a second outbreak has been declared at the George Derby Centre, a long-term care home in Fraser Health.

“We have 15 active outbreaks now in the health care system,” she added.

Of those, 12 are in long-term care, while three are in acute care units.

Henry said she doesn’t want to change orders around visitation at care homes, but health officials are considering moving to at least having an alternate person, not more than one person at a time.

COVID-19 cases in B.C. now total 9,220, with a recovery rate of 83 per cent.

Of 1,261 active cases in the province, 69 people are in hospital, including 19 in critical care.