Interior Health is urging people in Kelowna and the Okanagan to decrease the demand for COVID-19 testing by practising self-isolation while it tries to increase staffing and hours of operation to improve test turnaround times.
The regional health authority said it takes about two days to get results after a swab test, but it's difficult to compare its lab analysis time to other health authorities.
"We have unique challenges here in Interior Health because of our large geography and we serve many rural and remote communities," Dr. Sue Pollock, interim chief medical health officer of Interior Health, said Friday on CBC's Daybreak South.
However, data provided by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control show testing times were longer in the Interior than other jurisdictions even before the recent cluster of cases. The testing times in Northern Health, which serves more remote areas, are sometimes half of Interior Health's.
Pollock said the number of tests done per week in Kelowna has increased to 1,500 from 300 before the recent coronavirus case cluster, and the daily hours of testing have increased to 11 from four.
Interior Health said the number of tests being done at other sites in the region is also increasing.
Responding to a recent case where a Penticton man had to wait several days for a test, Pollock said Interior Health is trying to address the lag time from people getting sick to getting tested.
Pollock said Kelowna residents can normally get tested within a day. "But they do need to call ahead to the testing and assessment centre to arrange for that test."
Several Kelowna businesses are closed after some of their employees tested positive, and other employees are concerned they can't get tested because they show no symptoms.
Pollock said Interior Health will be in touch with people who have been in contact with positive cases and provide them guidance on self-isolation.
Interior Health may increase its testing capacity in downtown Kelowna starting next week, Pollock said.