A nurse holds swabs and a test tube kit to test people for COVID-19, the disease that is caused by the new coronavirus, at a drive through station set up in the parking lot of the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., Monday, March 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

A nurse holds swabs and a test tube kit to test people for COVID-19, the disease that is caused by the new coronavirus, at a drive through station set up in the parking lot of the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., Monday, March 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

B.C. adapts testing strategy for COVID-19

Province received shipment of masks, COVID-19 swabs on Tuesday

As the World Health Organization directs countries to “test, test, test every suspected case” of the novel coronavirus, B.C. will continue to upkeep its supply, the province says.

Slightly more than 6,300 people have been swabbed for the disease in B.C., as of March 13, and more than 34,000 people have been tested nationwide.

So far, 186 British Columbians have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Seven of those people have died, with six of those deaths linked to an outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Home in North Vancouver and another man, in his 80s, from the Fraser Health region.

Six people have recovered.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said during a daily health briefing on Tuesday, March 17, that the province has received a new shipment of COVID-19 swabs used to test for the virus, as well as more masks to protect health care workers on the front lines.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the big spike in positive COVID-19 cases in just one days time was a matter of the labs catching up to the number of swaps needing to be tested.

B.C. has transitioned its testing strategy to targeting clusters and outbreaks, as well as those seeing the most adverse symptoms.

In a statement, Provincial Health Authority Service people with mild symptoms who can recover on their own at home don’t need testing because the medical care and advice is the same regardless of whether they test positive or not.

In the event of shortages, health officials said there are other types of swabs available, such as those used for sexually transmitting infection testing, that might be used to test for COVID-19.


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