New COVID-19 testing centre opens in North Vancouver

A new COVID-19 assessment centre has officially opened on the North Shore.

The new centre is located in the parking lot of Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver and can accommodate both walk-in and drive-through visitors, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.

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With the number of new novel coronavirus cases rising throughout the province, the B.C. Ministry of Health announced earlier this week that it would be ramping up its number of assessment centres following delays and long lineups at some COVID-19 testing locations.

There were 50 new active cases of COVID-19 in the North Shore-Coast Garibaldi health region, as of Aug. 20.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control now releases regional stats on diagnoses of the virus every two weeks. Much like the rest of the province, the North Shore region has seen its caseload spike, in this case, almost double the previous reporting period.

“The new North Vancouver COVID-19 assessment centre is the second to open this week in the region and will help ensure that assessment and testing is broadly available to people experiencing symptoms, when they need it,” stated Health Minister Adrian Dix, in a press release from VCH.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 338 confirmed cases in the region, which includes North and West Vancouver, Whistler, Squamish and the Sea to Sky corridor plus the Sunshine Coast and Powell River.

A new testing site was opened in the parking lot of Vancouver Community College in Vancouver earlier this week, while the hours at a COVID-19 testing centre in Richmond were expanded.

The new testing site will be particularly important to the North Shore’s current response to COVID-19 by taking some of the pressure off of the Urgent and Primary Care Centre on Esplanade, according to North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma.

The care centre, which opened in November 2019, was particularly important during the height of the pandemic when many clinics were closed to in-person visits and the centre also helped relieve some of the burden put on the busy Lions Gate Hospital emergency room, said Ma.

“We do know that a substantial number of patients who visit the Urgent and Primary Care Centre are there for COVID-19 testing. I think that a lot of these patients will likely prefer a faster walk-in, drive-through experience,” said Ma. “They have been experiencing quite a lot of pressure and this additional testing site will definitely be able to help separate some of the caseloads that the Urgent and Primary Care Centre is getting.”

Ma also praised how quickly VCH and other North Shore community partners were able to transform the Centennial Theatre parking lot into a COVID-19 assessment centre.

The new North Vancouver COVID-19 assessment centre will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and can be accessed on Lonsdale Avenue from 23rd Street, according to VCH.

People visiting the test site do not need a referral or appointment and will be seen on a first-come, first-serve basis. Presenting a BC Services Card and wearing a face mask will be required, however.

Assessment for testing will be conducted on visitors experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which can include fever, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and others.

Click here for a full list of symptoms, or to use B.C.'s COVID-19 self-assessment tool.

- with files from Brent Richter

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