There are red sandwich boards on nearly every street corner and now a roving information van telling residents of Langford how to access a new, locally-run COVID-19 hotline.
“We just want to make sure everyone in Langford is protected and we don’t have widespread COVID throughout our community. We have a chance to do it now and we have to do it now,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young.
Langford has also launched an in-home testing program where local doctors and nurses, in proper protective gear, make house calls to those most at risk of having the disease.
“We’ve screened 1,500 people at least as of yesterday through our call centres and only 38 people needed home assessments and only 16 of them met the criteria for testing so by far we are not testing most people, but the ideal situation is if we had enough kits to test everybody,” said Dr. Jean Paul Lim, an internal medicine specialist who is helping run the program.
“I’ve had to send three or four people to the ER because they required it but that’s fine, better than 38 right?”
The program was launched by the owner of Forbes Pharmacy to try to keep people who are sick inside their homes.
“Their first instinct is to get in their car and find a doctor or go to the emergency room. And maybe on the way, they stop off and get some eggs and milk and supplies, pick up gas. So imagine if that person is contracted with COVID-19 they’re going to be spreading this contagion all throughout the community,” said Michael Forbes.
Island Health released a statement saying its aware of the program but that it’s “not affiliated with any government response to COVID-19” adding that the best resource for information is the BC Centre for Disease Control.
B.C.’s provincial health officer isn’t supportive of Langford’s program.
“My concern is that it’s not a good use of resources for testing people who are at low risk,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry. “I’m concerned that it is a diversion of resources and unnecessarily.”
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So far Langford has secured about 50 COVID-19 test kits from Life Labs but they’re hoping for help to get more.
“I want the government to start supporting what we’re doing here, go get more supplies, get more procurement, the only way you’re going to solve this is by testing as many people as you can,” said Young.
And Young says he has every intention of continuing the testing, whether Langford has government support or not.