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PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – The Province of B.C. and Northern Health hosted a virtual town hall Wednesday and revealed new testing laboratories are being set up in Northern B.C.

The town hall featured local MLAs, Doug Donaldson and Mike Bernier, along with Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Raina Fumerton and CEO Cathy Ulrich for Northern Health.

The first question came from Betty in Taylor, about testing capacity in Northern B.C. Dr. Raina Fumerton said testing capacity has changed since COVID-19 started. In the beginning, testing was selective. Now anyone who has a cold or COVID-19 like symptoms will be able to get a test, but a physician will determine if a test is needed or not. For more information, the community is encouraged to call the Northern Health COVID-19 information line at 1-844-645-7811.

Northern Health CEO, Cathy Ulrich said testing results are being received faster with an average turn around time of 20 hours. Tests are flown from Prince George, Fort St. John and Terrace to laboratories in other areas.

Northern Health is working to create laboratory capacity in the Northern Health Region. Just this week, UNBC has been able to open a laboratory to do the tests in the region. Plans are to open more laboratory space in Fort St. John and Terrace.

Another question that came up is, why is Northern Health not sharing the location about any positive COVID-19 tests?

Dr. Fumerton said Northern Health has been following the directives of the Province about sharing information about positive COVID-19 results. Due to privacy, the location of positive test results will not be shared. If there is a confirmed outbreak in a facility like a care home, Northern Health will share that with the community. To date, 2,687 tests have been completed in the region, with a total of 40 positive cases and eight active cases.

A Facebook question focused on if there is enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for Northern Health facilities. Cathy Ulrich said Northern Health currently has enough PPE. The PPE supply comes from the Province of B.C., and the Province and the Government of Canada are managing the supply chain. Ulrich did not address why organizations like the Fort St. John Hospital Foundation are asking for masks if there is enough PPE.

Watch the entire town hall meeting below.

For more information on provincial support related to COVID-19 visit http://gov.bc.ca/covid19

For information about upcoming COVID-19 virtual town halls in your region visit http://gov.bc.ca/covid19townhalls

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