COVID-19 at UBC: Test positivity hits record high as testing remains limited

According to new data from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), test positivity in the UBC community health area reached a record high of 56 per cent this week, surpassing the previous record of 43 per cent in mid-January.

From January 25 to January 31, the UBC neighbourhood recorded 30 new cases of COVID-19, down slightly from 32 cases last week. Based on the test positivity rate, only 56 PCR tests were performed in this time period, dropping from 89 last week. This data only includes publicly-funded PCR tests which are now restricted to individuals who are unvaccinated, immunocompromised or work in a high-risk setting.

Vaccination coverage is unchanged with 98 per cent of UBC residents aged 12+ having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. UBC residents are defined as people with a permanent address in the UBC community health area — the area west of Blanca — and does not include commuter students.

Booster coverage across Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is 33 per cent for people ages 18 to 29. While BCCDC does not report for this age group at the community level, booster coverage for Vancouver Westside, which includes UBC, is 45 per cent for people ages 18 to 49.

Within UBC’s rapid testing program, approximately 16,000 students, 22 per cent, had not yet declared their vaccination status or uploaded proof of vaccination as of early December. As first reported by The Ubyssey, students who are not compliant with the program may be placed on an academic hold this semester.

Last Thursday, VCH closed its rapid test distribution site at the UBC Life Sciences Centre, noting it was “established as a temporary testing location” during the Omicron surge in late December.

With the return to in-person classes next Monday, UBC announced it would distribute rapid testing kits to symptomatic students, faculty and staff outside the AMS Nest. Starting February 7, tests will be available Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m to 3 p.m.

As The Ubyssey repeatedly reported, symptomatic testing has not been available on campus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing some community members to commute 50 minutes and others to seek testing at UBC Hospital.