Seniors’ care providers in B.C. are urging the province to provide rapid COVID-19 tests for staff, residents and caregivers who have not yet been vaccinated.
B.C. has access to the antigen tests, made available by Health Canada, but that tool to combat COVID spread isn’t being used in non-government long-term care homes, says BC Care Providers Association CEO Terry Lake.
“It’s now time,” the former B.C. MLA urged in a statement Tuesday (Jan. 19).
A rapid testing strategy is crucial in detecting asymptomatic healthcare workers providing care to populations more susceptible to complications from the virus, Lake added.
“With 1.3-million rapid test kits purchased by the federal government currently warehoused in B.C. and ready for use, getting the kits into the hands of seniors’ care providers should be a top priority for preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2.”
A localized rapid test pilot, launched in December, saw long-term care providers in five Vancouver facilities tested for COVID-19.
As a result, the program identified “multiple asymptomatic COVID-19 positive healthcare staff,” Lake said.
Provinces such as Nova Scotia have implemented a COVID-19 antigen rapid test strategy in long-term care environments.
During the pandemic, Health Canada purchased nearly 11 million Abbott Panbio antigen tests, distributing them to each province on a per capita basis.
“We know that rapid antigen testing two-to-three times per week among care staff that has not been vaccinated can be managed effectively,” Lake said.
So far, Fraser Health has completed 151 vaccine clinics for long-term care and assisted living in the health region, as part of first phase in B.C.’s vaccine rollout plan.
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