NEW B.C. LAB DELIVERS THOUSANDS OF RAPID COVID TESTS TO KEEP FILM INDUSTRY ROLLING

Screening film workers turns up asymptomatic spreaders at no cost to public health, company says

A man in costume holds flowers while walking down a street in Gastown during the filming of The Mysterious Benedict Society in Vancouver in November. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A new lab set up in Coquitlam, B.C., is processing thousands of coronavirus tests in under 12 hours each day to screen film industry workers for the virus and keep productions rolling.

Omega Laboratories Inc., a huge U.S.-based forensic lab, has chosen B.C. as a location for its pivot to COVID screening in addition to its main business drug testing employees.

Since January, Omega — working in partnership with Swedish-based First Wellness Testing — has responded to the huge demand for its specialized service.

It’s an expensive option, with the costs of tests ranging between $150 to $165 each, but asymptomatic screening has proven integral to keeping films in production

Samples have been turned around in as little as eight hours, depending on courier services. This is a big time saving for film companies that previously had to ship test samples out of province or out of the country for processing.

Some experts say the film industry’s embrace of rapid asymptomatic testing is a direction other areas of the economy might consider, especially now that more infectious variants of the virus are emerging in B.C.

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