Wage loss while you wait and ask for an extra online. This is what the COVID-19 test looks like

Pauline Klimek says her 46-year-old husband Joe did not look well a little over a week ago.

He was working at his job in Hamilton’s wastewater industry when Klimek says Joe’s boss sent him home to get a PCR COVID-19 test after seeing he was drowsy.

After using up sick days earlier in the year unless Joe took his vacation days, he would not be able to return to work – or get paid – until he received a negative test result. But samples have been hard to come by.

“There were only three places in Hamilton that offered deals,” the woman in the Hamilton area told CBC Hamilton on Wednesday.

After being sent home from work on December 22, he got an appointment on December 27. Klimek said they waited for more than an hour in the cold rain at Mohawk College before getting the test.

Three days later, after two calls with “frustrating” long waits to the province to find out where the test results could be, Klimek finally got through on Thursday.

The results were within, after more than a week of lost pay: the test was negative.

Demand outweighs test capability, city says

Waiting has become a common experience among those trying to get PCR tests and results, with many complaining online about inability to book appointments.

The increase in demand follows soaring COVID-19 cases thanks to the ability of the Omicron variant to spread at a rapid pace.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief physician for health, is set to make a statement at. 15 ET, which may include “test instructions”, but specific details of the message are not yet known.

Meanwhile, City of Hamilton spokeswoman Michelle Williams told CBC Hamilton’s test centers are not run by the city and operate under the direction of the province. According to the province, Ontario had 59,259 test specimens waiting to be processed on Wednesday.

“Hamilton’s healthcare partners are doing extremely large amounts of COVID-19 testing,” Williams wrote in an email.

“Even with the increased ability to test, the demand for testing far outweighs the ability to keep up with the rapid increase in demand, and it is challenging for testing to happen in a timely manner. This is a situation that occurs in many communities in Ontario.”

She also said that anyone waiting for COVID-19 test results should isolate themselves for 10 days and should inform close contacts if they develop symptoms.

If someone has mild symptoms, no underlying health conditions and does not work in high-risk environments (e.g., hospitals, town halls, prisons, shelters), they do not need a PCR test and should assume they are positive, she said.

“Given the significant demand for centers, we ask that if individuals decide to cancel their appointments or are unable to attend, please cancel the appointment online to allow other individuals to receive a test,” Williams wrote.

Woman finds a quick test after asking online

Getting quick tests – which should be used for asymptomatic people and can only be considered a “preliminary positive” according to the province – has also been a challenge for locals.

Earlier this month, the province provided some LCBO locations with rapid tests, though supplies have since run out. It hosts pop-up sites to hand out some, but supply has not matched demand.

Williams said local public health is not involved in the province’s pop-up test flash.

Hamilton resident Ashley Letts said she only got a quick test after asking people online if they had a spare. (Posted by Ashley Letts)

Ashley Letts, who lives in Hamilton, said she was trying to find a quick test after realizing that the fastest PCR test would mean waiting a week and a half.

She says she only had a sore throat but wanted to make sure it was not Omicron. Unsuccessfully, she resorted to begging people on social media and asked if anyone had a test to sell or save.

“It’s ridiculous. I know we’re in an unprecedented situation … It does not make sense [that the province didn’t] send the tests by mail … it’s Hunger Games-y, “said Letts.

Test rollout is unreasonable: McMaster professor

Ameil Joseph, a member of the Hamilton Vaccine Readiness Network and a McMaster University associate professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, says the province’s approach to COVID-19 testing does not do enough to consider which populations to prioritize when it comes to access to to test.

“Who is most vulnerable? Where do we see more infections? Who should be prioritized? … Without that kind of data and that kind of care, what we are looking at is the worsening of the existing inequalities we have learned getting worse through the pandemic and of course existed before that, “he said.

He pointed to the fact that free trials are unavailable, but there are still options for those who can pay.

“It’s a really messy situation where those who now can not afford to pay $ 180 or so to get a PCR test, for example at the Eaton Center in Toronto, or pay $ 50 to get five quick tests sent to their house … maybe do not know if they are in danger to others or themselves. “

Joseph said the city and province need to invest more resources in public health and in higher-risk populations. “We do not have a collective understanding of who the people who are being disproportionately affected are,” he said.

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