The LifeLabs group of medical laboratories has joined B.C. health authority facilities in ramping up testing for the COVID-19 to 3,500 a day as positive tests continued to rise to 617 as of March 24.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the new capacity allows the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to continue “aggressively test health care workers,” and investigate community infections and surveillance testing, such as adding COVID-19 to routine influenza testing.
Henry announced new staffing rules for long-term care homes after testing turned up one infected staff member at Little Mountain Place in Vancouver and one resident at Evergreen Heights in White Rock in the past two days.
With daily testing in place for care home employees, staff are to be assigned to one facility only by the end of the week, Henry said. At Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, where 42 residents and 21 staff have been infected and 10 residents have died, “the outbreak had been going on for some time before we got a handle on it,” she said. Cases also showed up at Lions Gate Hospital as infected employees worked at more than one location.
Subsequent positive tests at Delta View in Ladner, Dufferin in Coquitlam and the German Canadian Care Home in Vancouver have been limited to a single case, and Hollyburn House in West Vancouver has been limited to one infected staff member and one resident, Henry said.
Testing continues in the wake of the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver in early March. Henry said the conference has turned out to be “a major source” of COVID-19 infections, with 32 people identified so far after investigations of participants and their close contacts.
The death of one North Vancouver dentist may be connected to the pandemic and the case has been turned over to the B.C. Coroners Service. Vancouver Coastal Health initially told dentists and other staff who went to the conference to self-isolate only if they noticed symptoms.
Henry said she has written to all of B.C.’s professional colleges, including massage therapists and chiropractors, giving them the same instruction as the College of Dental Services to restrict their service to urgent cases only.