COVID-19: Vancouver test capacity cramps as places close due to cold

The emergence of the Omicron variant is driving an increase in cases, particularly in Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley, leading to long queues and delays at most test centers.

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Vancouver Coastal Health only encourages those at high risk for COVID-19 to be tested as centers are flooded and several are forced to close due to BC’s unusually cold weather.

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The emergence of the Omicron variant is driving an increase in cases, particularly in Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley, leading to long queues and delays at most test centers. To make matters worse, the Vancouver Coastal (VCH) and Fraser Health closed test sites this week due to the cold.

“Due to dangerous weather conditions, VCH has temporarily suspended operations at St. Vincent and YVR test sites and redirected people to alternative test sites,” the health authority said in a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon.

With this decision, VCH also suggested that people who are not at high risk should isolate themselves if they have symptoms – but do not go for a test.

“As a temporary measure to maintain test capacity for those at higher risk for COVID-19, people do not need to get a test if they are fully vaccinated, have mild symptoms and are able to isolate themselves until symptoms improve.”

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VCH urged those who had planned to go to St. Vincent or the airport for a test, to find alternatives including the University of BC, ICBC and acute and primary care centers.

Similarly, Fraser Health said it is operating with reduced test capacity due to “dangerous weather.” Sites in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley (at Kwantlen Polytechnic) and Surrey 66 COVID test and immunization centers had set up services on Tuesday.

Fraser Health referred people to indoor clinics or suggested people rebooking.

Suggested alternatives were:

• Burnaby: Go to Surrey North;

• Coquitlam: Go to Haney Place Mall or Surrey North;

• Langley (KPU): Go to Langley Event Center;

• Surrey 66: Walk to South Surrey Recreation Center.

None of the health authorities said how long the reduced test capacity would last, but said they are monitoring the weather and will update accordingly.

jruttle@postmedia.com


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