B.C.'s COVID-19 testing policies continue to evolve with only eligible groups now required to get tested.
The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Fraser Health are now prioritizing tests for immuno-compromised individuals and people working in high-risk settings, such as health care, and at risk individuals.
Schools are getting rapid antigen tests, but only for employees, with about 7,500 being delivered to School District 43 (SD43) this week, according to a spokesperson.
But as Tri-City residents come to grips with the fact that they might never know if they had COVID-19, some are raising concerns about public health's new testing policies.
After spending the past two years taking all required precautions so she and her family didn't get sick, a Port Moody grandmother contacted the Tri-City News to express her "disgust" at the changes.
The triple-vaccinated woman, whose name is not being published citing privacy concerns, said she had been "sicker than a dog" for five days earlier this month and wanted a test for COVID-19, like many others have had.
"I was desperate for something concrete to go on, I live with my son, daughter-in-law and my two young grandsons. I also babysit my three-year-old un-vaccinated granddaughter and did not want to infect them,” she wrote in an email.
"So I first tried to get an appointment online. The government site was completely frozen, it didn’t matter what category you tried to make an appointment on, which date or where. I tried for hours — nothing. So then I tried calling. I was told by the recording that there were 228 people waiting ahead of me so I gave up on that too."
SICK FOR 11 DAYS BUT STILL NOT TESTED
However, turning up to the Coquitlam drive-thru testing site without an appointment proved to be equally unsuccessful.
"When I came up I told the girl all of my reasons for needing a test. I am sure she could see my white hair above my mask so she knew I was not young. She told me too bad, I had to make an appointment... [I] just wanted to go home."
Sick for 11 days, and still not tested for the virus, the woman worries people having long-haul COVID-19 won't be able to get access to treatment because they don't have proof they caught the virus.
"I believe I should have had the right to have a PCR COVID-19 test and our government dropped the ball on all of us," said the woman, who claims she is starting to feel better.
But according to the BCCDC, testing policies are adapting to Omicron.
In an update to its website today (Jan. 24), it states "what we have learned is that most people don't need testing."
"Testing is most needed for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and are at risk of more severe disease and live or work in high-risk settings such as health care workers."
WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR A COVID-19 TEST?
Those with mild symptoms can be managed at home, but people should "continue to seek medical care if you feel you need it."
Meanwhile, Fraser Health is not denying tests to anyone but on its website states that appointments are required.
As well, it states testing "is available to those that meet the eligibility criteria."
The website says testing is recommended for people who have symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection and meet one of the following criteria:
- People who are moderately to severely immuno-compromised
- People 18 years of age and older who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated
- Individuals who live or work in high-risk settings
If you meet the criteria, you can book a test here.