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Coronavirus: Business traveller lamenting lack of private testing sites in Okanagan

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Coronavirus: Business traveller lamenting lack of private testing sites in Okanagan – Feb 24, 2021

With new federal regulations governing international flights, some Okanagan residents who travel for work are finding it tough to obtain the necessary COVID-19 test before boarding a plane.

Allan Laursen walked into Kelowna International Airport on Wednesday, bound for Copenhagen, Denmark, on a business trip.

The Kelowna man works in the food industry for a Danish company.

“That’s all I do, travel for work,” Laursen told Global News, adding logging plenty of air miles is nothing new.

“Various locations Canada, U.S., Europe, it could be anywhere.”

But what is new is needing a COVID test before boarding a flight — something Laursen says isn’t easy to find in B.C.’s Interior.

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“I had to drive all the way to Princeton and back again, a 300-kilometre round trip, and obviously pay for my test, which was $420,” he said.

Laursen says Princeton was the only place he could find in the region offering private COVID-19 tests.

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“We are the only clinic offering asymptomatic testing for people that don’t qualify for testing by the health authority,” said Tim Van Der Heide from the Okanagan Testing Clinic in Princeton.

The lack of private testing availability is something Laursen finds frustrating.

“I think that’s stupid. I mean, here we are, people who have to go to work, to make money, to pay our taxes and we are forced to drive that far to get a test,” Laursen said before heading through security to wait for his flight.

Laursen maintains private tests should more readily available to Okanagan residents.

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Fortunately for residents who are forced to travel, for one reason or another, there is some good news on that front.

“We are accepting bookings starting for tomorrow,” said Van Der Heide, as Princeton’s Okanagan Testing Clinic is expanding its operation.

“We have partnered with a pharmacy in Penticton to collect our swabs for us and they will be transferred there by courier down to Surrey to Life Labs, where they will be processed,” said Van Der Heide.

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And in Kelowna, the Travel Medicine and Vaccination Centre has just started offering the tests as well.

On this B.C. Centre for Disease Control webpage, you can find a list of private testing clinics in the province.

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