LifeLabs testing facilities across the province have announced they will be shifting their resources to assist with COVID-19 testing, as well as reducing public hours at their patient service centres.

The reduction of hours – and temporary closures in some places – are due to the global shortage of protective equipment for their frontline employees, said the provider in a letter to patients on March 30th.

It was also stated that the coronavirus testing will not be done on site at the actual patient service centres, as LifeLabs recognizes the need for essential medical tests in the province, and they want to ensure the public still has access to these services.

“Please note, we are not testing for COVID-19 at our patient service centres,” LifeLabs CEO Charles Brown said.

LifeLabs is currently completing more than 600 tests a day in B.C. and over 1,000 per day in Ontario.

British Columbia has been able to increase its COVID-19 testing capacity to about 3,000 tests per day with the help of provincial health authority labs as well as LifeLabs.

The company is also urging patients to use virtual services, like their online appointment booking and “save my spot” feature, to reduce public walk-in traffic and allow physical distancing in their testing facilities.

LifeLabs also refers anyone worried about COVID-19 exposure or symptoms to use B.C. health ministry’s online self-assessment tool to get further information on whether they require testing, and follow the directions provided.

British Columbia’s new dedicated COVID-19 line can also be reached at 1-888-COVID-19 or 1-888-268-4319 for more information, and the HealthLink 811 line has added more support for inquiries.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

The federal government recently announced an $82 billion assistance package for Canadians and businesses struggling financially during the global pandemic. This was followed by a $5 billion relief package announced by the B.C. provincial government.

This includes a $2,000/month package for four months for all Canadians who have lost income due to COVID-19, and $500/month assistance package for renters in B.C.

Trudeau also announced a 75% wage subsidy for small and medium sized businesses and a new Canada Emergency Business Account which will allow banks to offer $40,000 loans to businesses, interest-free for the first year.

The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C., closure of all bars and restaurants, and a moratorium on evictions among other steps to enforce social distancing measures.

Canada has tightened its borders and is denying entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada.

U.S. citizens are no longer an exception to this rule, and non-essential travel between U.S. and Canada has been temporarily banned as of March 21st. Moreover international flights have now been restricted to international airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19  line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 770,165.

Nearly 37,000 people have died from the illness and 160,243 have made a full recovery.

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