The UBC COVID-19 test site closes, VCH says

A COVID-19 test site that first opened on Christmas Eve to help meet the growing demand for testing in Vancouver in the early stages of the Omicron wave is shutting down.

The test facility at UBC’s Life Sciences Center closes Jan. 27, according to a Vancouver Coastal Health press release.

The health authority said the site was established as “a temporary test site on Dec. 24 to support other Vancouver-based sites from late December to January.”

When it first announced the site in December, Vancouver Coastal Health did not describe the facility as temporary. However, a UBC news release from that time indicated that it would run until January 28th.

At the time, the Omicron variant had overwhelmed BC’s ability to administer a PCR test to anyone in the province with COVID-19 symptoms. Rapid tests were offered to people under the age of 65, but tests for otherwise healthy people in that age group were not recommended.

When it opened, the UBC test site offered only quick tests, reflecting the recent change.

Since then, the province has further limited testing. BC now recommends testing only for unvaccinated, immunocompromised, and people living or working in certain high-risk environments, and only when such individuals have symptoms.

The changes in test eligibility have eased the pressure on BC’s test system, which completed 10,940 tests on Wednesday, according to the BC Center for Disease Control.

According to the health authorities, the maximum capacity of the system is around 20,000 tests.

“VCH continues to offer a range of COVID-19 testing options in Vancouver for those eligible to test,” the health authority said in its statement Wednesday.

“Anyone eligible to be tested can participate in any VCH test site without an appointment. A list of test site locations is available on the BCCDC website.”

Vancouver Coastal Health thanked frontline workers and UBC management for helping “quickly mobilize” the test site at the Life Sciences Center.

“VCH remains committed to ensuring that those at higher risk for serious illness, or those living or working in high-risk environments, continue to have low-barrier access to testing services,” the health authority said.

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