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Fraser Health speeding up plans for Tri-Cities COVID-19 test site, as only existing site closes

Click to play video 'Uncertainty over Tri-Cities COVID-19 testing centre' Uncertainty over Tri-Cities COVID-19 testing centre
Uncertainty over Tri-Cities COVID-19 testing centre

Fraser Health says it has “accelerated” plans for a COVID-19 test site in the Tri-Cities area of Metro Vancouver.

The Friday announcement came amid outcry that the region’s single existing test site would close down on Oct. 2.

“Now is the time that testing and our capacity to get people tested should be ramped up, this is going in the wrong direction,” Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West told Global News Friday.

Read more: B.C. reports 98 new COVID-19 cases, one new death as active cases dip again

The soon-to-be shuttered testing site, located in Port Coquitlam, was originally set up by a concerned group of local doctors following the closure of another test site in New Westminster.

Dr. Kathleen Ross, president of Doctors of BC, said it was always intended to be temporary and the staff who were working the site were burned out.

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“This actually did take a team to put together, but as time has gone by we have seen the load be more and more on that individual clinic and they have expressed their fatigue and are closing the clinic,” she said.

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“This was off the side of their desk, this was in addition to their family physician practice that they kept going, and the stepped in and thank God that they did, because in the past couple of months they’ve helped several people.”

Read more: Fifth COVID-19 case linked to Kelowna, B.C. church outbreak

Late Friday, Fraser Health said that it had secured a lot at the Coquitlam Centre Park and Ride, which will operate as a drive-through assessment and testing site.

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The site will be able to process up to 800 tests per day, the health authority said.

Fraser Health said that it had only learned Thursday that the existing test site was closing, and that it had “accelerated our timeline to ensure our centre would open earlier.”

The new site is slated to open on Oct. 5.