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COVID-19 testing: Some BC residents turning to private clinics

COVID-19 testing: Some BC residents turning to private clinics
CVM Medical, a pop-up clinic inside Vancouver International Airport, offers pre-flight rapid COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic travellers for $79.

But ever since the B.C. government restricted public testing to all but a few select groups, more and more symptomatic people have been coming to private travel clinics like CVM Medical to find out if they have COVID-19.

“I understand of course completely that many British Columbians cannot get the COVID test in the public system, and that’s very unfortunate,” said CEO Graham Williamson.

But he’s urging people with symptoms not to book tests at his clinics.

“So imagine you’re a traveller headed to Hawaii today and you’re taking your COVID test before your flight, and now you’re standing in line next to somebody who has symptoms. So that’s why we do asymptomatic screening,” said Williamson.

He’d like to offer testing for symptomatic patients too. “As long as people who are having symptoms of COVID are kept separate from people who don’t have symptoms of COVID, which is basic hygiene and infection control 101, absolutely,” said Williamson.

But his travel clinics and many others are currently only authorized to test asymptomatic people. With public testing now very limited and rapid tests next to impossible to find in B.C. pharmacies, Williamson is hoping that will change.

“There is a demand out there, and the private sector is able to fill that demand. But the province needs to play a role and realize people are asking for this, and if you are unable and unwilling to meet that need, it’s time to step aside,” said Williamson

He hopes CVM Medical can offer a separate steam of symptomatic testing soon, adding “There is a tremendous need for it.”


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