The number of British Columbians dying from illicit drug overdoses plateaued in 2018, despite significant efforts from groups around the province to prevent deaths. The BC Coroners Service reports there were 1,489 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths in 2018, just over the total of overdose deaths seen in 2017. It is likely the number of these deaths for 2018 will increase as investigations conclude. Learn more:

Vancouver: British Columbia increases COVID-19 testing as a measure to curb with pandemic in order to keep control on community transmission by the disease. The tests conducted are still far from the capacity of the province. On an average, capacity estimated roughly is 1200 tests a day and has the capacity to conduct about 6200 tests a day.
Alberta has expanded its testing in the province for the ones who show symptoms for the novel coronavirus, and with implementing expanded testing the province has become the only province in the country with largest testing coverage. Also, the province is not in planning to increase it three times by conducting almost 20,000 tests a day.
Since many days, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, defended an approach that focus resources on the highest risks and most vulnerable areas, such as specific outbreaks, those who are critically ill or need hospitalization, healthcare workers and people in long-term care.
The testing directions were then changed on April 8 and the province issued a new directive to clinicians, so that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 can be assessed and tested, either through a family physician or at a local community collection centre.
Dr. Henry said that we need to find the cases in our own community to let the community transmission not take place, as this would be fatal for the lives of people. Thence, it becomes very mandatory to stop the outbreak adapting social distancing and increased testing. The increased testing is introduced to help quickly identify and address any new community cases and outbreaks.
“We want to avoid another spike in community cases,” she added. “That’s why we are changing the strategy again, to open it up and ensure that we continue to find everybody who needs to be isolated and where we need to be contact tracing in the province.”
Despite the new directives being given, a significant increase in tests have not been observed yet. Everybody can be tested but not everyone needs to get tested; if you have symptoms then get yourself tested otherwise it is not mandatory for you to get tested says Dr. Henry. On April 7, B.C. conducted 1,073 tests and on April 17, the most recent day that the total testing figure was available, there were 1,483 tests.
Dr. Henry cautions the testing has limited benefits.“We now know the false-negative rate can be as high as 30 percent early on in infection,” she said. “The norm is not to test people who do not have symptoms because we know the test doesn’t perform very well and we can have false negatives.”
Peter Phillips, an infectious disease expert, said B.C.’s public health officials need to figure out what obstacles are getting in the way of increased testing before the province can hope to begin to reduce some of the physical-distancing measures that have helped flatten the curve of infection rates.
Dr. Phillips, a clinical professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine, said broader testing is critical for the province to begin reopening schools and businesses. He added that it is the need of the hour.