"That is an urban myth."
That's B.C.'s top doctor commenting on the widely circulating story that there are "millions of rapid tests" in a warehouse somewhere in the province.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a press briefing Tuesday (Jan. 4) afternoon that the province is not hoarding the coronavirus tests in any building.
"We've made rapid tests in their various forms available to long-term care for many months," she said, highlighting when B.C. mandated all long-term care staff to get vaccinated and rapid tests were used in the period before employees received their second dose.
"So they have been available," she underscored.
Additionally, B.C. has also designated lateral flow rapid tests specifically for visitors to long-term care facilities. "There's over 100,000 [that have been] distributed to long-term care homes across the province."
Health officials recently announced that the province was again restricting visitors to long-term care homes; only essential visitors are allowed in.
“We need to decrease the number of people coming into our long-term care homes so that we can best protect the seniors and elders in our long-term care homes and ensure that health-care workers in those settings are able to manage and cope,” Henry said in a previous briefing.
The health officer said she hopes to have the restriction in place for as short a term as possible, and she'll reevaluate the measure, along with a number of other restrictions, on Jan. 18.
The province reported record-breaking COVID-19 daily case numbers heading into the holiday season and continues to see staggering daily figures in the new year. As a result, Henry said employers should anticipate seeing significant staff shortages due to illness from the Omicron variant.
With files from Chuck Chiang