Why has B.C. used less than 1% of its rapid COVID test supply? Green Party leader asks

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan HaywardGreen party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
An Abbott Laboratories Panbio COVID- 19 Rapid Test device is displayed at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in Halifax on Wednesday, Nov. 235 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew VaughanAn Abbott Laboratories Panbio COVID- 19 Rapid Test device is displayed at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in Halifax on Wednesday, Nov. 235 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Despite the nearly three million rapid tests that the federal government has sent to B.C., all but 13 per cent of them are still sitting in provincial storage.

That’s according to the federal government, who said it has sent 2.8 million rapid tests to B.C., of which just 383,732 have been deployed – delivered to their point-of-use – and less than 10 per cent of those have been used. Just 24,478, or six per cent, of the tests deployed have been used – equating to less than one per cent actually being administered.

B.C. has repeatedly said it will only use rapid tests if they see a benefit, versus creating more work. At the start of March, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said rapid tests had been used in provincial prisons, workplace outbreaks and in B.C. schools but produced just two positive results.

“If our community transmission rates are low, screening with these less sensitive tests is not very effective. It doesn’t help us because the yield is so low and they have a very much higher false-negative rate. In those areas where we have an outbreak or where community transmission rates are higher, that’s when they might have more utility and those are the areas that we are looking at more closely,” Henry said in early March.

However, BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau challenged the government’s use of rapid point-of-care tests. Furstenau compared B.C.’s strategy to that of Nova Scotia, which has in recent days experienced its own surge in COVID cases.

“Rapid tests are available to anyone in Nova Scotia over the age of 16, whether they are exhibiting symptoms or not,” she said during Monday’s Question Period in the legislature. According to federal data, Nova Scotia has used 28,831 rapid tests.

“The positivity rate in Nova Scotia right now is 0.6 per cent. The positivity rate in B.C. is 9.3 per cent. It appears from the actions that Nova Scotia is taking that it remains committed to keeping COVID-19 cases as close to zero as possible. What is our goal in B.C.?”

In response, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the government was focused on PCR, lab-based, testing.

“Our goal is, on the decisions such as rapid testing, that we are focusing, right now, on the 2.5 million PCR tests we have done in British Columbia. Our goal is to support public health experts like Dr. Henry as they do their job, and to not give them instructions that would divert resources from where they’re most needed,” Dix said.

“I don’t think we want to be in a jurisdiction where politicians overturn that order, instruct and tell public health experts in issues such as transmission how and when they should use tests. The member knows that we laid out our strategy for rapid testing.”

There have been 127,048 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 1,571 deaths, including a toddler and an infant.

READ MORE: B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

The initial Genesis Community in 1978. (Norbert Maertens photo)
Hidden North Okanagan-Shuswap valley home to a European intentional community

Community members helped resurrect Cherryville’s status as ‘Hammock capital of Canada.’

Rachel Spanier opened her new business, Rikki Lou Who’s Gift Emporium at the corner of Alexander Street and Lakeshore Drive on May 11. Space at the rear of the store is dedicated to her other business, Head Gamez Hair & Company. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Lookie-loos welcome at new downtown Salmon Arm business

Rachel Spanier combines gift emporium and Head Gamez salon at one location

A thief or thieves broke into a kitchen at the grandstands at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds recently, destroying a door apparently with the intention of stealing copper. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Man found sleeping amidst damage on Salmon Arm fairgrounds

Agricultural association dismayed by vandalism, thefts in kitchen, dance studio

Quinn, left, and Adrian Van de Mosselaer are going through UBCO’s nursing program together after Quinn encouraged his brother to go back to school. (UBC Okanagan/Contributed)
UBC Okanagan student transitions from professional hockey to nursing

Adrian Van de Mosselaer credits his younger brother for the push to get him back to learning

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

File photo of osprey. Black Press Media
VIDEO: Livestream of osprey birds and their babies in Kelowna

FortisBC sets up a nest with livestream camera in Kelowna for Ospreys

Commissioner Austin Cullen listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. money laundering inquiry could have lessons for other provinces: lawyer

4 reports concluded the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal cash linked to organized crime and the drug trade impacted the province’s real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Tinder, an online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other’s profiles. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up led to a ‘beautiful baby’

The plaintiff is seeking contact with the married woman’s infant who he believes is his child

Susan Larsen, who still lives on her own, celebrates her 100th birthday on May 16, 2021. (Contributed)
99-year-old Vernon woman eagerly awaiting second COVID-19 vaccine

Susan Larsen celebrates her 100th birthday May 16

Nurse Tami Arnold prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. (Kareem Elgazzar/AP)
B.C. adults 30+ now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Health officials made the announcement Wednesday afternoon

Richard Green writes poetry under the nom de plume Rick the Poet Warrior. Homeless, Green sometimes spends his summers in Revelstoke but winters in Victoria, travelling to Ontario to visit his sister whenever he can. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke nomad pens poetry, offers insight into homelessness

Rick the Poet Warrior’s books can be found online as well as at the Revelstoke library

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
Watchdog: logging practices put Vancouver Island old growth, biodiversity at risk

Forest Practices Board has issues with BC Timber Sales practices in Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni

Erik Christian Oun, who worked for the Coquitlam school district, has had his teaching licence suspended for half a year. (Pixabay)
B.C. teacher suspended after calling students ‘cutie’ and ‘sweetheart’ in online messages

Erik Oun’s licence has been suspended for half a year, a decision made by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

Most Read