A woman wears a protective face mask as she waits to enter a bank in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Various businesses and restaurants are opening in the province as a part of the phase 2 reopening plan during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

As two B.C. offices see outbreaks, Dr. Henry warns tests don’t replace other measures

Physical distancing, PPE and sanitizing remain key to reduce COVID-19 spread

As businesses open up across the province, B.C.’s top doctor reminded them that “testing is not enough” to keep COVID-19 transmission down in workplaces.

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s warning came as two outbreaks were identified in Fraser Health, both in offices: New World Technology in Abbotsford and Maersk Distribution Canada Inc in Delta. As of Tuesday, there were 207 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

“Testing can help identify people who have COVID-19,” Henry said.

Health officials have said asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people can still spread the virus, even as testing remains “unreliable” for people with mild or non existent symptoms.

It’s been about three weeks since B.C. entered Phase Two of its reopening plan, with many businesses – including retail shops that closed voluntarily, and offices that sent employees to work from home – opening their doors .

“We’ve seen many examples of businesses owners getting creative, learning to operate safely and responsibly, and all of us are getting that comfort level with how we can do this in ways that minimize our risks,” Henry said.

Measures that have been suggested to some barriers, and required of others, include physical barriers, one-way paths, personal protective equipment and extra cleaning.

Henry said some businesses have inquired about testing and screening practices to keep COVID-19 out of their workplaces.

“We meed to remember the many steps that are required to keep everybody safe,” she said. “Relying on one layer [of protection] – like testing – is not enough.”

A person can show up negative one day, Henry said, but come up positive the next as the disease progresses. Testing can take up to 24 hours to see results, she noted.

But another type of testing is taking a longer than hoped for amount of time to become reality.

Serology testing, which tests for antibodies to see if someone has had the virus in the past, has not begun widespread use in B.C. Knowing who has antibodies would be the first step in determining who has immunity against COVID-19.

“I know we’ve all been a little frustrated by how long it’s taking us to get a good reliable tests… to understand who has antibodies in our community,” Henry said. The delay is caused by false positives and false negatives, which both the BC Centre for Disease Control, and labs around the country, are working on.

READ MORE: B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

READ MORE: B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

British ColumbiaBusinessCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Interior Health will not expand Police and Crisis Team

Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli asked IH to expand the program

Rain prompts travel advisories, road closures in Cache Creek area

No stopping during heavy rain on highways near Cache Creek

Free screenings of ‘Twilight Zone’ episode filmed in Ashcroft

‘A Small Town’ was filmed in February, and is now available as part of TV show’s second season

Ashcroft council moves forward on rezoning project

Amendment to zoning bylaw paves the way for new housing development in North Ashcroft

New emergency alert system for TNRD

System will allow residents to receive emergency warnings, alerts, and updates on various devices

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

White-throated sparrows have changed their tune, B.C. study unveils

Study marks an unprecedented development scientists say has caused them to sit up and take note

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

Most Read