COVID-19 testing centres in Quebec are being overwhelmed by the pandemic’s newest wave, with lengthy lineups to get a check and delays in outcomes because the Omicron variant pushes every day case counts to report ranges.
The union representing 5,400 laboratory technicians within the province says the latest surge in demand for testing is pushing laboratories to their limits.
“There’s a sense of despair. Those that are younger sufficient to alter profession are doing so, whereas those that are near retirement go away to get pleasure from their well being,” Sandra Étienne, a vice-president of the Alliance du personnel professionnel et method de la santé et des providers sociaux, mentioned in an interview Monday.
Étienne, who works as a biomedical laboratory technician, mentioned that through the pandemic medical technologists have but to obtain the popularity given nurses — who have been supplied $15,000 in bonuses to maintain them from quitting the general public system within the fall.
“They’re reacting like troopers proper now,” Étienne mentioned of laboratory technicians. “However troopers who’re asking to be acknowledged.”
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Quebec Well being Minister Christian Dubé on Monday requested that solely individuals with signs search a check. However Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious illness specialist and medical microbiologist on the McGill College Well being Centre, mentioned the coverage is misguided.
“We’re weakening ourselves,” he mentioned. “We’re capturing ourselves within the foot by proscribing the testing.”
Vinh mentioned Quebec can’t afford to have asymptomatic individuals spreading the virus. Primarily based on present ranges of testing and sure numbers of contacts, he estimated that as many as 15,000 asymptomatic individuals aren’t at the moment being accounted for in Quebec. They’re “strolling round contaminated, however not in a position to get examined and doubtlessly transmitting,” he mentioned. “It’s not a small quantity.”
The answer, Vinh continued, comes by at-home fast checks, however “the supply of these checks has been poor.” On the day after the province made fast check kits accessible in pharmacies throughout Quebec, many places in Montreal — which has the very best variety of energetic circumstances within the province — have been already out of inventory. He mentioned it could have been extra environment friendly to distribute the checks by the mail.
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Labs in Quebec have not too long ago been processing round COVID-19 checks a day, hitting a excessive of 46,830 on Dec. 15. They’ve reached their “most capability,” Dubé mentioned Monday, including: “Testing centres shouldn’t be a instrument to get examined in case you’re asymptomatic and also you need to collect along with your family members.”
He requested individuals to prioritize at-home fast checks to keep away from clogging laboratories. The provincial authorities has pledged to distribute greater than 800,000 of the fast checks by Christmas.
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Annie-Claire Fournier, a spokeswoman for the McGill College Well being Centre, mentioned its laboratories, which on common analyze 15,000 checks per day, have not too long ago seen a rise of as many as 1,000 checks a day.
“Ninety-nine per cent of analyses are carried out inside 24 hours,” Fournier mentioned in an e mail. The outcomes are often shared with sufferers inside 24 to 48 hours, she added.
For Dominique Primeau, who had been ready for her outcomes for 2 days, the delay was a supply of stress. She mentioned Tuesday that she began to expertise COVID-19 signs on Saturday. She tried to get examined on the south shore of Montreal however couldn’t discover a walk-in clinic.
She subsequent tried a drive-thru testing website in Montreal, but it surely was closed on Saturdays. She went to a different clinic however there was “a endless line” and it closed earlier than she might get in. Primeau mentioned she lastly received examined on Sunday, after waking up at 5 a.m. and ready nearly two hours within the chilly.
“It’s by no means enjoyable being sick and never realizing what you will have,” Primeau mentioned. “I need to know what sort of holidays I’ll be having. If I’ve COVID, I’ve to isolate, I’ve to cancel plans. It’s not straightforward.”
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Primeau’s expertise gained’t be distinctive as testing centres hit most capability. Jean-Nicolas Aubé, a public well being spokesman at CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montreal, one of many metropolis’s largest well being authorities, mentioned the authority often handles 1,500 checks a day however is now above 2,000.
“It’s been a serious improve and it continues,” he mentioned in an interview. “The demand is excessive, however we’ll regulate.”
Aubé echoed Dubé’s recommendation that individuals ought to go to testing centres provided that they’ve signs.
“Individuals are coming to get examined as a result of they’ve a celebration,” he mentioned. “We heard it, we noticed it, we perceive, however now we have now to make room for individuals who have signs.”
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