BC expecting 11 million COVID-19 rapid tests from feds by January
Health officials say that BC is expecting at least 11 million COVID-19 rapid tests from the federal government by mid to late January.
That was one of the major announcements during a COVID-19 update given on Tuesday afternoon. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix revealed new restrictions and addressed the situation around rapid testing and COVID-19 booster doses.
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As of December 15, BC has received 3,197,306 rapid tests and deployed 1,266,513. The province has also purchased 200,000 PANBIO Rapid Point-of-Care tests and 500,000 BTNX tests, both of which are expected by late December.
Between now and mid-January, BC is expected to have access to 2,600,000 tests, which will be distributed as follows:
- 700,000 tests will be available at sample collection sites for people with symptoms
- 100,000 tests will be available at acute care sites for symptomatic staff and close contacts
- 1,200,000 tests will be available for rural, remote, Indigenous, and vulnerable communities
- 250,000 tests will be available for businesses and organizations
- 250,000 tests will be available for case and contact management and outbreaks (these will be managed by regional medical health officers and health authorities)
11 million COVID-19 rapid tests expected by mid-January
Health officials also announced that the Canadian government is expecting 84 million COVID-19 rapid tests by mid to late January. These tests are coming from five different manufacturers, and 10 million of them are expected for “at-home use.”
BC says it’s expecting at least 11 million of these tests by mid-January. At that point, seven million of those tests will be reserved for public health and health authorities to manage community transmission. This will be done by distributing them to individuals who test positive and their close contacts, as well as clusters and outbreaks.
In addition, 500,000 tests will be deployed to K-12 students and staff as they return to in-person learning, and another 500,000 for testing students and staff at post-secondary institutions.
The final 3,000,000 tests will be used to expand or replenish the supply being used by long-term and acute care facilities, healthcare workers, rural, remote, and Indigenous communities, businesses and organizations, and case and contact management.
Increasing vaccination capacity for COVID-19 booster doses
During Tuesday’s update, Dix said that the booster dose program is currently operating at a 35% higher capacity than what was originally announced in October. Over 700,000 third doses have been administered, which includes 65,000 healthcare workers and 125,000 individuals who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV).
Health officials revealed a plan to further increase vaccination capacity by 62%. This will be done by expanding clinics in various health authorities and increasing pharmacy capacity in January.
Dix stressed that invites for booster shots are being sent out when appointments can be guaranteed and that individuals with a higher level of risk are being prioritized.
In an effort to expand vaccination capacity in local health authorities, Vancouver Coastal Health has secured a space at the Vancouver Convention Centre and Fraser Health has secured the Guildford Site in Surrey. Spaces have also been acquired by the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Interior Health Authority, and the Northern Health Authority.