More than 400 so far tested for COVID-19 in northern B.C.

More than 400 people in northern B.C. have been tested for COVID-19 since March 13, Northern Health says.

The health authority said Monday that more than 400 test swabs from residents taken between March 13 to 21 were sent to provincial labs for testing. The samples were taken from across the health authority region, including the northeast, officials said.

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"It’s a challenge to localize/regionalize the volume of information that is being shared at the provincial level," wrote spokesperson Eryn Collins in regards to testing numbers, facility planning, and response details, in an email today.

The province announced 48 new cases in B.C. today, including one more in the Northern Health region, bringing the region's total to five. Their precise whereabouts are not being reported by B.C. public health officials.

Thirty-three of those infected are in acute care in hospital, 14 of them in intensive care. One hundred people have recovered.

More than 18,000 people have been tested to date, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control, and the province says its capacity has increased to 3,000 tests per day.

Collins said COVID-19 testing locations are operational in all communities across the Northern Health region; however, testing is by appointment and referral only. A patient care co-ordinator will call to provide instructions once referred, she said.

An online clinic has been set up to offer information, virtual screening and assessment for individuals who feel they may have COVID-19. Residents can reach the clinic at 1-844-645-7811.

Also, effective immediately, Northern Health says it will be limiting entrance to all its facilities to essential visits only.

Essential visits meaning patients who are critically ill, receiving end-of-life care, or frail and need an escort for a family member or their safety.

Eligible visitors must pass screening criteria, by not having a cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat, and shortness of breath, as well as having not travelled outside of the country in the last two weeks.

This is a developing story.

Email reporter Tom Summer at tsummer@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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