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People wanting COVID gargle test not following instructions: VCH

Vancouver Coastal Health said staff at testing sites are reporting more people turning up having not followed the instructions
The COVID-19 saline gargle test.

Health authorities are reminding people wanting to take the gargle COVID test that they need to prepare properly for it.

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) said on Tuesday that staff at testing sites across the region are reporting more and more people arriving to take the gargle test – as opposed to the less popular nose swab – without having followed pre-test instructions.

VCH is reminding the public that, if they prefer the saline gargle test, they need to avoid eating, drinking, vaping or smoking, brushing their teeth or chewing gum for at least one hour prior to arrival.

Research, according to VCH, has shown this is necessary to ensure the test provides an accurate and reliable result.

To properly complete the gargle test collection, recipients must swish and gargle saline water in their mouth for 30 seconds under the supervision of a test administrator.

Saline gargle collection is currently available at 14 test collection sites across urban and rural VCH communities, and accounts for just over 30 per cent of all COVID-19 tests performed in the region.

Test collection sites, listed on the VCH website, where the gargle test collection is available include:

  • Three Bridges Test Collection Centre
  • Vancouver Community College
  • Honoria Conway at St. Vincent’s
  • DTES COVID-19 Test Collection Centre
  • North Vancouver Test Collection Centre (ICBC Capilano Claims Centre)
  • Richmond Test Collection Centre (jetSET parking lot)
  • Richmond Test Collection Centre (Richmond Hospital)
  • Squamish Assessment Centre
  • Pemberton Health Centre
  • Whistler Health Care Centre
  • Sechelt Assessment Centre
  • Powell River Test Collection Centre at the Recreation Complex (drive-thru)
  • R.W. Large Hospital
  • Bella Coola General Hospital

BCCDC has a self-assessment tool for people to check their symptoms. Wait times for test sites are available here at

B.C. was the first province in Canada to offer this test collection option to its residents as part of its COVID-19 test collection protocol.

The BCCDC has published a simple video guide for parents and caregivers which demonstrates how they can practice with their child from home, before they arrive at a COVID-19 test collection site.

A video with guidance for adults has also been created. VCH advises waiting at least two hours between practicing and doing the actual test collection to avoid affecting test results.