Time for rapid testing in long-term care homes

VICTORIA (December 18, 2020) – As the number of exposures and deaths in long-term care homes across the province continues to grow, the NDP government needs to expand the COVID-19 rapid testing pilot project to cover all long-term homes.

“The vaccine offers a glimmer of hope but it won’t immediately impact the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on our seniors,” said Interim BC Liberal Leader and Critic for Seniors Services & Long Term Care, Shirley Bond. “We already have a pilot project for rapid testing, so let’s use this added layer of protection in all long-term care homes. We need to do absolutely everything we can to protect our seniors and the incredible staff who are working so hard to care for them.”

The use of rapid testing in long-term care homes is supported by the province’s Seniors’ Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, and the BC Care Providers. Rapid tests can help identify staff members with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and can produce results in 15 minutes.

“With new outbreaks in long-term care homes still happening every other day, staff in these care facilities need to be given a rapid way to test themselves to provide another layer of protection for the vulnerable residents they work with,” added BC Liberal Health critic Renee Merrifield. “The government is already using rapid tests on First Nations and rural B.C. populations and rapid tests are being administered to asymptomatic subjects at the airport and on film sets. It’s time to start using rapid tests broadly in long-term care homes to provide seniors with an added layer of protection.”

As of December 17, there were 55 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities, which includes 1,374 residents and 735 staff with COVID-19 currently.

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