People have started to go to the Urgent Care Centre at the UBC Hospital for COVID-19 testing due to the lack of nearby testing sites, leaving some concerned.
Testing on campus has been an issue since last year — the closest site is 50 minutes away by bus — with students and community members repeatedly asking for a more accessible option.
Currently, the only testing on campus is for asymptomatic individuals as part of UBC’s rapid testing program for unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or people who chose not to disclose their vaccination status. A clinical study in IKB was open earlier this year for all asymptomatic people, regardless of vaccination status, but it has since shut down.
Concerns around people using the Urgent Care Centre to get tested was brought to light by the UBC Covid Tracker on Twitter where they posted a screenshot of a DM conversation with a worried individual. The person who expressed concern over the lack of separation between those who have come in to pick-up COVID-19 tests and those who are simply seeking medical attention.
Since there's no official covid testing site on campus for symptomatics, "UBC Urgent Care is packed w/people getting covid tests — w/no separation b/w potential covid +s and other patients, no distancing, and shoulder to shoulder people all coughing & waiting hours to be seen." pic.twitter.com/yCqHuwg2Pq— UBC Covid Tracker (@ubccovidtracker) November 7, 2021
Fareesah Malik, a first-year studying in the faculty of science, said she was also concerned about her experience from when she went to Urgent Care a few months back during an interview with The Ubyssey. She said the waiting area was quite small and crowded when she went in.
Despite her experience, Malik also noted that “I haven’t had to get a COVID[-19] test done but if I did, that’s the only place because the one at the IKB is only open a few days a week.”
Bonnie Xie, a first-year Sauder student, was more interested on why there hadn’t been a testing centre set up in the first place.
“I’m sure they could look into something in a separate area that isn’t the Urgent Care, so it isn’t exposing all these vulnerable people to COVID[-19] which is absolutely an issue,” she said.
Leyla Babayeva, a second-year studying psychology, echoed Xie’s comment. “I feel like there might be a compromise reached … a closed space where only people who [come in] for COVID[-19] testing go.”
When asked to comment through email, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) — who operates UBC Hospital — said that students did not have to worry, “We can tell you that UBC is a low-risk setting for COVID-19 transmission. VCH has a robust surveillance system in place for UBC and other post-secondary institutions in our region.”
VCH noted that it offers testing centres off-campus.
The VCH representative ended the note by stating that for further information, students can visit the BCCDC website.
This article has been updated to say that there is only one rapid testing clinic site on campus. A previous version said there were two, however the clinic in IKB has shut down.