British Columbia’s top doctor says the province has updated its approach to testing and is calling for people with specific COVID-19 symptoms to get tested right away.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the comments at her Thursday briefing, adding that testing remains available for anyone who needs it, but that officials wanted to prioritize certain cases.
“There are four symptoms that have shown — when we look at the data of people who’ve been tested — that are very much associated with COVID,” Henry said.
“These include having fever/chills, a cough, loss of sense of smell or taste and difficulty breathing. If you have any of these symptoms, if you’re feeling short of breath, if you’ve lost your sense of smell, then you need to get a COVID test right away. That’s a priority.”
Henry said the majority of new cases in B.C. remain linked to confirmed exposures, clusters and outbreaks.
Anyone who was in contact with such a case and has any symptoms at all should also be tested immediately, she said.
The updated guidance came as more people are experiencing symptoms similar to those of COVID-19 during respiratory illness season, Henry said.
People showing other symptoms may still be tested if they wish, but Henry added that if they were not in contact with a COVID-19 case, it was OK to wait and see if they improved.
“Those are things that are fairly common this time of year, like sore throat, loss of appetite, fatigue, headache, body aches, nausea and diarrhea,” she said.
“In that case, if you have two or more of these symptoms, you can wait and see, but you can also go for a test. And if you feel the same or worse after 24 hours, then you can get tested.”
Anyone who was unsure about their symptom can also call 811 or their health provider if they were unsure, she said.
B.C. has committed to a testing capacity of 20,000 tests per day, but has yet to actually perform that many in a 24-hour period.
On Thursday, the province reported conducting 11,169 tests, while the most it has performed in a day was 15,213 tests on Nov. 27.