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COVID test equipment arrives in northern B.C.

A healthcare worker runs a test on a GeneXpert machine. (via Health Policy Watch)

COVID-19 testing equipment has arrived in Fort St. John, and Northern Health anticipates tests to start being processed here within two weeks.

The GeneXpert machine first needs to be tested and validated, spokeswoman Eryn Collins said. Both the Fort St. John Hospital and Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace have received a machine to process tests from their respective regions.

“It will further reduce the turnaround time for lab results,” Collins said.

There have been more than 4,500 tests taken to date throughout the region. Northern Health will still use the provincial lab for testing as needed.

Laboratory testing started taking place in Prince George at the University Hospital of Northern BC in April. The hospital had a GeneXpert machine for microbiology works that first needed to be recalibrated before being able to process COVID tests.

The provincial government has expanded COVID testing to include anyone with cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild.

Anyone with symptoms including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, painful swallowing, stuffy or runny nose, loss of sense of smell, headache, muscle aches, fatigue or loss of appetite should get tested.

Testing can be done by family doctors, walk-in clinics, urgent primary care centres or community collection centres.

To arrange testing, call your doctor's office or the Northern Health COVID-19 online clinic at 1-844-645-7811.

Anyone seeking a COVID-19 test should self-isolate until they receive a negative result. Most test results are available within 24 to 48 hours.