PCR tests for COVID-19 in B.C. will be prioritized for those at risk for severe illness, health care workers, and emergency responders.
PCR tests are polymerase chain reaction tests, work by taking a nasal or saliva sample and examine the sample for the coronavirus genetic material.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said there has been an increase in demand for testing in the province.
“As many people have experienced, our testing centres are now at their maximum capacity,” Henry said. “We have been doing a lot of testing over these past few days despite things like the weather and dealing with the issues that we’ve had with some of our testing centres.”
Henry said triaging will now be taking place at testing centres to ensure PCR tests are available for certain groups.
“PCR tests are being used and we’re triaging those to make sure they’re available for those who are at highest risk,” Henry said. “People who have a high risk of having more severe illness or for people who need to know whether they have COVID to be able to safely return to work in particular and making sure that they are available to support our health care workers and emergency responders and others.”
READ MORE: B.C. reports 2,944 new cases of COVID-19
For the rest, rapid testing will be made available, according to Henry.
“Rapid testing that we have available in the province is now being used across the province to supplement at our testing centers for those who are at lower risk of having severe disease but people with symptoms where it can help understand if they have COVID or not,” Henry said.
Previously, the province did not accept positive results from rapid tests, but Henry said a tool has been developed.
“We now have an online reporting tool for rapid testing. And that will give us a sense of how many people are reporting that the rapid test was positive,” Henry said. “That’s just another piece that helps us put together the picture of how this virus is moving through our community in this wave as a result of the widespread transmission of Omicron.”