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B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

A South Surrey woman is raising concerns over COVID-19 messaging, after receiving conflicting directions regarding isolation requirements.

Deb Antifaev told Peace Arch News she was tested for the virus on Sunday (Nov. 22) morning, after learning that several of her family members – including two of her adult children and their spouses, as well as two of her grandchildren – had all tested positive.

READ MORE: B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

However, Fraser Health officials say it is a matter of “general guidance” instructions versus follow-up on individual assessments.

Antifaev said paperwork from the collection centre stated that a positive test required a 10-day quarantine from the test date, however, “the health nurse was saying that’s completely wrong,” of information provided to her son following his positive result.

He was told “‘it’s still a 14-day quarantine, and then if your kids don’t test positive, then it’s another 14 days after your 14 days, in case they do test positive at some time.’”

“So that’s basically a month,” she said Wednesday (Nov. 25). “It’s not 10 days at all.

“If he hadn’t received a call from the head nurse (at the hospital), he would’ve gone back to work.”

Those who test negative should also isolate for a further week after their test, the nurse advised, “to make sure you don’t develop symptoms,” however, Antifaev said that that information was not on the form that she was sent home with.

“Could we just get one thing straight?” she said. “Is it 14 days? Is it 30 days? Is it from your diagnosis, or from the day we feel the symptoms? And if we’re negative, why are we still isolating? How long does it take to show up in your nose?”

Antifaev tweeted her frustration with the messaging on Tuesday (Nov. 24), pleading for consistency in the instructions.

The response it garnered was unexpected, she said.

In addition to sundry comments as well as interest from news outlets, “everyone kept retweeting it,” she said.

“Surely other people are finding the same experience. There’s a lot of confusion.”

Her husband, Todd, agreed, describing information that’s on the Fraser Health website regarding what to do as “about as clear as mud.”

“There’s no clear, concise, ‘this is it,’” he said.

“Really, the public health authority has to get their act together and give a clear direction.”

In an explanation emailed Nov. 27, Fraser Health told PAN that information distributed at the collection centres “provides general guidance,” while a case-by-case assessment “takes into account someone’s exposure to COVID-19, which can modify how long someone needs to isolate.”

“When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, Fraser Health Public Health will contact them directly with further instructions,” a spokesperson explained.

“When an individual tests negative for COVID-19 but has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or has recently travelled outside of Canada, they are asked to self-isolate for 10 days from when they started feeling sick, or 14 days from the day they were exposed or returned to Canada (whichever is longer).

“When an individual tests negative for COVID-19, has not been exposed and has not recently travelled outside of Canada, they are asked to self-isolate until they feel better.”

The Antifaevs believe their family members’ COVID-19 exposure occurred either at Peace Arch Hospital or at one of their grandchildren’s schools.

Their home is near two schools and Deb Antifaev said she has been “horrified” to watch the degree of unmasked, close interaction occurring both on and around school grounds.

“How on earth did they think it wasn’t going to spread?” she said.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
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Tracy Holmes

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