COVID-19 testing reaches saturation point

While Quebec records its worst daily toll of new cases of COVID-19, the deadlines are lengthening in terms of screening. Both the wait in centers or before getting an appointment and the wait before getting a test result increased in several regions this week.

In the metropolitan area, several testing centers were stormed Friday. In Montreal, the center of the Olympic Stadium was full for the second day in a row. “This is the second time that we have tacked after a three hour wait,” Martin Patenaude-Monette is in despair.

His two-year-old son has had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the early childhood center he attends.

“As an adult, we could have waited longer, but with a toddler, no toiletries and no lunch, it’s unmanageable,” he explains. Illustrator and popularizer of science, he says he “fully agrees” with the health guidelines: “But if the screening does not follow, people who don’t care at all risk dropping their test,” he slips. .

The CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal recognizes that waiting times “can go up to three hours at certain times of the day depending on the screening center,” says a communications advisor at Duty.

Elsewhere, the screening capacity had to be boosted after a hectic week. The CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal is currently carrying out 3,000 tests per day “to meet the increased demand”, explains public relations officer Hélène Bergeron-Gamache. That’s double the usual capacity of 1,750 tests per day.

The results are communicated within a maximum of four days after a test, she continued. This delay was rather 24 to 48 hours in other regions, noted The duty.

Everywhere in Quebec

In Lévis, you have to wait more than two days before getting an appointment. A walk-in clinic is also open, but it is impossible to know the waiting time there, unless you go there.

Same story in Lac-Mégantic, Sainte-Marie, Saint-Georges, Beauceville and Thetford Mines: you will have to be patient until Monday, or even Tuesday, to be able to access a test.

You have to go to the east of the province to find the rare exceptions. Rivière-du-Loup, Rimouski and in Gaspésie; several sites offered meeting the same evening, Friday.

The CISSS de Laval, which has been facing “exceptional traffic” since the start of the week, also had to warn the public that up to four days could elapse before receiving its result.

The analysis capacity was exceeded at the start of the week, when a record 10,000 samples were sent to the laboratory. “Our analysis capacity is rather 7000 samples per day”, indicated to the Duty the spokesperson for the CISSS de Laval, Judith Goudreau.

This same laboratory serves three regions, namely Laval, the Laurentians and Lanaudière. Friday, the maximum time was shortened to three days to obtain a result, a sign “encouraging”, continues Gaudreau. Up to 30% of people who get tested in Laval come from other regions, she also indicates.

The southern ring of the metropolis is experiencing a similar saturation of its screening system. In Sorel, the delays to obtain an appointment are up to six days, confirmed the communications advisor Marianne Paquette, of the CISSS de la Montérégie-Est. In Saint-Hyacinthe and Boucherville, you have to wait two days.

The CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest says it maintains its capacity between 750 to 1,000 tests per day, with delays of up to three days to make an appointment. Mobile clinics are added as needed “to cover [son] large territory, ”said spokesperson Jade St-Jean on the phone.

Towards relief?

These two Montérégie divisions are also looking to recruit more “scouts” for their centers. The pool is often made up of retirees, explains Mme Paquette, and availability has declined in recent weeks; “fatigue or the return of different job titles in their respective areas of work” played on the workforce, she said.

“The distribution of rapid tests is also expected to decrease ridership,” adds St-Jean.

Around 1,900 pharmacies will start distributing five rapid screening tests per person free of charge from next Monday. A person who obtains a positive result must nevertheless go to a collection center to validate the result.

The Department of Health and Social Services is also counting on this distribution for “unblocking screening centers”, writes a public relations officer by email. Despite the “very great screening capacity,” he says, certain regions such as the Eastern Townships are indeed at their maximum capacity.

Rapid tests began to be used in queues to sort out negative tests at several sites, including the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal and the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale.

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