BC health officials warn of "disturbing" coronavirus testing scam

Mar 9 2020, 5:17 pm

Calling it a “disturbing” new development in the ongoing coronavirus situation in BC, Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said on Monday she has learned of a new scam that preys upon those concerned about their current health situation.

Henry highlighted the situation on Monday morning during a news conference in which she announced a BC resident has been confirmed as Canada’s first death linked to coronavirus.

“We’ve been made aware that some people are calling other people and offering them fraudulent laboratory testing for a cost,” said Henry. “We’re telling everybody in BC that COVID-19 testing is done by our lab, which is an accredited lab; we are moving it out to several other labs around the province, but this is all done for free.”

And when it comes to official testing, “our turnaround time is very quick.”

As such, people looking to get tested “should not be asked to pay money and should not be paying people.”

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Over the weekend, health officials announced they had identified six new cases of coronavirus, including two residents of a long-term care facility on Vancouver’s North Shore.

On Monday morning, Henry said one of those residents has now passed away as a result of the virus.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that a resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, a man in his 80s who was previously confirmed positive with COVID-19 (case 27) passed away,” said Henry. “We offer our heartfelt condolences to his loved ones, and the staff who provided him care during this difficult time.”

The other resident – a woman in her 70s – is still classified as being in stable condition.

Henry also announced “five new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 32 cases in British Columbia.”

The individuals are in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions and were confirmed positive, based on BC Centre for Disease Control testing.

Henry said two of the new cases (case 28, 29) “are close contacts of case 21, who is a health-care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. Case 28 is a man in his teens and case 29 is a man in his 50s. Case 30 is a woman in her 40s and is also a health-care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre.”

All these cases, she added, live in the Fraser Health region.

“Case 31 is a woman is her 50s who recently returned from travel in Iran. Case 32 is a man in his 30s who recently returned from travel to Italy,” continued Henry. Both of these cases live in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

Three COVID-19 patients are receiving care in hospital.

“All other individuals are stable and in isolation at home with support and monitoring from public health teams,” said Henry. “So far, four of B.C.’s 32 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 have fully recovered.”

The news follows Henry’s announcement on Saturday, that a health care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre also tested positive as BC’s 21st case of COVID-19. She was identified as the province’s first case of community transmission earlier this week, meaning her illness was not tied to travel or direct contact with someone else known to have COVID-19.

“Public health teams continue to investigate the source of the outbreak at the care centre,” said Henry.