Photo: Glacier Media
As Omicron cases increase and frustrations increase over access to testing, staff at the Lloyd Avenue test site in North Vancouver face increased harassment from the public, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.
“In recent weeks, as demand for testing has increased, staff at our testing site have experienced a significant increase in verbal and, at times, physical harassment from members of the public. This includes staff working at our testing site in North Vancouver, ”said a spokesperson for the health authority.
On-site security and police had to be called in on occasion to help with threats to staff, VCH said.
This behavior is “completely unacceptable” and has caused “significant distress” to staff who are already exhausted from the pressure of increased testing, the spokesperson said.
“We strongly urge members of the public to be patient and kind to our staff. “
The North Vancouver RCMP have received “some recent reports of rude people towards the staff at the North Vancouver COVID test site,” Const said. Kelly McIntyre, spokesperson for the local detachment. All incidents were investigated and dealt with informally, McIntyre said, adding that no criminal threats, harassment or assault were reported, no arrests were made and no charges were made. ‘had been recommended.
Dr Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth addressed the harassment in a statement on January 5, saying: “We have received reports of health workers in COVID-19 testing centers intimidated, threatened and otherwise verbally harassed by some people seeking testing.
“The Government of British Columbia recently brought into force the Access to Services Act to help protect the safety and well-being of healthcare workers in testing centers, and to hinder services or intimidate them. working on these sites is illegal. Threat incidents and aggressive behavior will be reported to the police. Our healthcare workers need a safe and respectful workplace, free from abuse and threats of violence, so they can continue to work to keep us safe.
Reports of staff harassment come as long waits for testing were occasionally reported at the testing site over the past month.
A Vancouver Coastal Health website that previously gave approximate wait times at testing sites has since been turned off.
The high demand has meant that even people who work in high-risk settings like healthcare and those at risk for serious illness have had delays in getting tested, according to VCH.
The health authority said people who are fully vaccinated and with mild symptoms do not need to be tested and can simply self-isolate at home.
Some people, however, have raised concerns on social media forums about having a record of their COVID infection in case they experience longer-term symptoms.
Most of those with symptoms who have visited the North Vancouver testing site in the past month have had rapid home tests.
People who test positive after a rapid test can go online and register their result with the health authority.
These results are not included in the daily number of COVID cases released by the province, the BC Center for Disease Control confirmed. These figures only include positive PCR tests.