News Ask a PG doctor: Do you need to be tested for Covid-19? SHARE ON: Catherine Garrett, staff Tuesday, Mar. 24th, 2020 Covid-19 (Stock Image) The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and Northern Health have released guidelines on Covid-19 testing. The test itself is called a nasal-pharyngeal swab and takes a few minutes to complete. “So basically what it means is we stick a long swab down your nose and down the back of your throat,” said Family Doctor Eric Butler. “It gets everything going down your nasal passage and into the back of your throat, it’s not very pleasant but it’s pretty quick.” Butler explained similar tests take anywhere between 24-48 hours, but they are dealing with a backlog of testing so results are taking longer. “From what I’ve heard they aren’t abominably backed up, I think we are only dealing with 48 (hours) to maybe three days at the most.” Then, the tests get sent from Prince George to Vancouver. “They do what’s called a viral culture, where they grow it up to get enough to test (…) then they check for what viruses are growing.” According to Butler tests are readily available, but to manage numbers, they are only testing certain individuals. “It’s pretty straight-forward for the average person right now, testing is still pretty limited and there’s not a ton of benefit, in terms of our limited tests, to testing everybody.” “The rules right now: if you aren’t a healthcare worker, or if you have basic cough and cold symptoms and you’re mostly feeling ok we don’t generally do a test,” Butler adds tests are also being given to those in hospital, those who have had direct contact with a covid patient, or travellers with symptoms returning to Canada. He said the province has a plan in place for major outbreak testing such as this one, and positive test results are being used to extrapolate outbreak specifics. “Because the symptoms of this virus are so generic, if we were to test everybody who has possible covid symptoms, we would very rapidly overwhelm our labs,” “We are hoping that more tests become available because there are certainly people who fall through the cracks where we would like to test but can’t.” Even if a test is negative, the recommendation from health care professionals is still staying home for 14 days. Those who fit the testing criteria should be referred by their doctor to the Urgent Patient Care Clinic in Parkwood Mall, Butler added. As of Monday, 26,681 individuals have been tested with approximately 3,500 tests being conducted a day in BC according to provincial health. Resources: There is an Online Self Assessment Tool available to determine whether you need further assessment or testing. There is also a support app with updates, resources, and alerts. Northern Health information hotline: 1-844-645-7811. It is staffed by nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors to keep pressure off emergency rooms and other medical services. Additionally, it is advised to call Health BC at 811, or your personal healthcare provider.