Although testing is available in most cities across the province, B.C.’s top health officials were unable to provide clarity this week about who qualifies.
Health authority websites for all five regions – Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Island Health, Interior Health and Northern Health – state that either symptoms or an official COVID-19 exposure close contact notice is required for testing.
However, the message from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry seemed to differ.
“Our message out there is if you have any concerns, get tested, and we have testing available for people everywhere,” she said in response to a question at Monday’s COVID update about people getting turned away from test sites because they had neither symptoms nor an official exposure notice, returning to the test site claiming to have symptoms, and then testing positive.
“So I have heard anecdotes of that as well,” Henry acknowledged.
“What I’ve said is that if people are concerned that they’ve been exposed, we’re doing a lot of asymptomatic testing and people have been exposed. If people have somebody they know who’s been exposed or tested positive, then they absolutely they should be tested.”
When Black Press Media asked the province’s health authorities if they were testing anyone who showed up, it was redirected to the province. The province did not directly answer the question, but provided audio from a scrum with Health Minister Adrian Dix on Wednesday.
“People are concerned. And they’ll be concerned for a number of reasons. They’re concerned because they have symptoms. They’re concerned maybe because if someone they know has symptoms, then our approach in general has been to encourage people to get tested. And that continues to be the case. I think I was there on Monday when Dr. Henry said that, and I think that continues to be the case,” Dix told reporters.
Several health authority websites directed those wanting a COVID-19 test to use the BC COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool, which states an individual does not need a test unless they have symptoms or have been contacted by a health authority.
On Island Health’s website, the health authority states “If an individual has no symptoms, they do not require a test. Testing is recommended for anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones.”
Northern Health states that “while testing has expanded, not everyone needs a test. COVID-19 testing is not recommended for people without symptoms.”
On Fraser Health’s website, the messaging includes that “anyone with mild symptoms should be tested. If you are a close contact of a confirmed case, even with no symptoms, you should get tested seven days after exposure.”