British Columbia's largest provider of medical laboratory services has closed or reduced hours at 16 locations for at least two weeks because of staffing shortages related to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
On Wednesday, LifeLabs shuttered 11 locations: eight in the Lower Mainland, two in Victoria and one in Kamloops. Another three locations in the Lower Mainland and two in Victoria have announced reduced hours of operation.
The company said it would monitor the situation and provide an update in two weeks.
"This change was implemented to maintain consistent and reliable service for our customers and reduce increased pressure on our teams," said a statement posted on the LifeLabs website.
"To maintain service in the community, we will be redeploying affected staff (from those sites) to nearby, central locations. Customers and health-care providers will be redirected to those nearby locations."
LifeLabs is a private company and largest provider of medical lab services in B.C., which includes testing for COVID-19.
The closures are a worrying development in an already maxed out health-care system experiencing staff shortages in every sector.
"It just means that there's going to be more stress now on our acute care services and more stress on the people who need health care urgently now. They're the ones who are going to suffer," said family physician Karina Zeidler.
Zeidler said she is as feeling hopeless and worried the entire health system is headed for a breakdown.
"It's very hard for me to see how we can now avoid something like a lockdown or a circuit breaker to be able to save our health-care system," she said. "I think that the onus falls on our government. They had a lot of warning that this was coming."
The LifeLabs locations that are closed temporarily are:
180 Keefer St., Vancouver.
943 West Broadway, Vancouver.
888 West Eighth Ave., Vancouver.
1200 Lynn Valley Rd., North Vancouver.
4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond.
6051 Gilbert Rd., Richmond.
9639 137A St., Surrey.
12195 Harris Rd., Pitt Meadows.
650 Fort St., Victoria.
1641 Hillside, Victoria.
321 Nicola St., Kamloops.
The following locations have reduced hours of operation:
2061 West 42nd Ave., Vancouver.
1200 Burrard St., Vancouver.
33498 Bevan Ave., Abbotsford.
1590 Cedar Hill Cross Rd., Victoria.
582 Goldstream, Victoria.