Fraser Health has been dealing with an increase in demand for COVID-19 testing over the holiday season.
So much so that in the approach to New Years Eve they are now asking some symptomatic people to forgo a test, and simply stay home until they feel better.
And, the BC Centre for Disease Control is advising those that are fully vaccinated, have mild symptoms, and are able to self isolate, that they do not need to get a test – a temporary measure, the agency said, to preserve testing capacity.
Although, the agency added, anyone can still seek testing if they feel they need it.
Throughout the holidays there have been very few available appointments for those living in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Anyone in either community, looking to book a test on the Fraser Health website, are advised to check back for available appointments throughout the day or use drop-in locations. However, days before Christmas, staff at the Mission Memorial Hospital testing site were advising people that walk-ins were unavailable across the Lower Mainland due to the surge in testing demand.
In other locations across the Lower Mainland, as of Wednesday, Dec. 29, the next available appointments for booking are on Friday, Dec. 31.
”Those who do not have symptoms are strongly advised not to access testing services to allow frontline providers to prioritize care to those who are most likely to be infected,” said Joshua Klaassen, a spokesperson for Fraser Health.
“Before visiting a test site, we advise all residents to review the testing criteria on the BC Centre for Disease Control website. We are trying to accommodate everyone and are currently accepting booked appointments only for testing,” he confirmed, adding that no one with a confirmed appointment time is being turned away.
Fraser Health is advising that people need to get tested if they are having surgery or are a close contact of someone who tested positive for the disease. Or if they have one or more key symptoms: fever or chills; cough; loss of sense of smell or taste; or difficulty breathing.
A symptomatic person is also advised to seek testing if they have two or more of the following symptoms: sore throat; loss of appetite; extreme fatigue or tiredness, headache, body aches, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. If a person has only one symptom on the list Fraser Health is asking them to stay home until the symptom subsides.
Fraser Health is also offering a take home saline gargle test that people can drop off at the site later. The test is for those who need a COVID-19 test but don’t want to wait.
“We are working hard to add more capacity and extra resources to some of our peak times and busier clinic locations to accommodate as many people as possible. Our priority is ensuring everyone gets tested or vaccinated and has the best experience possible,” said Klaassen.
To book a COVID-19 test go to fraserhealth.secureform.ca/booking.php or call 604-587-3936.
For more information go to www2.gov.bc.ca or call 811 if unsure about whether to get tested or get medical care.
Anyone experiencing severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, having a hard time waking up, confusion, or a loss of consciousness, is being told by Fraser Health to call 911 or go directly to the nearest emergency department.
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