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The lineups were lengthy at Winnipeg's three community COVID-19 testing centres Tuesday as the number of reported cases in the province jumped again.
Officials identified 12 new cases after reporting 18 Monday. There were 41 active cases in Manitoba Tuesday; nine days earlier there was one.
Outside the north Main Street MPI service centre drive-thru testing site, Tyler Vandervis said his employer won’t let him go back to work until he receives a negative COVID-19 test.
Although the construction company safety officer had been waiting in his vehicle for almost three hours, he said he didn't feel there was a need to open more sites.
"I was told to expect three to four hours," he said.
Vandervis said he may have been exposed through contact with a member of a Hutterite colony.
On Monday, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said 10 cases were reported at three colonies over the weekend, bringing the total in the communities to 20, and more are expected.
A provincial government spokesperson said eight of the dozen new cases reported Tuesday could be connected to the colonies.
Further up the Main Street testing site waiting line, Charissa McKenzie and her husband had been waiting with their 10-year-old daughter Isabelle for about 4 1/2 hours. After an hour on hold Monday waiting to ask Health Links about Isabelle's cold symptoms, they were advised to have her tested.
"I understand that we’ve been pretty low (in cases) for a long time, but I feel if they are getting spikes, they should set up more testing sites," Charissa said, adding she'd spoken to staff, who warned Isabelle might not make the day's cut-off and suggested they try the Thunderbird House or St. James Assiniboia Centennial Pool and Fitness Centre locations instead.
"For 4 1/2 hours, to be stuck in a car — we’ve wasted a ton of gas, we’re just sitting here; it’s most of the day we’ve spent here."
However, they decided to take their chances after investing that much time.
A Winnipeg Regional Health Authority spokesperson said demand at the sites has increased over the past few days. Wait time information was not immediately available.
The wait wasn't quite as long at Thunderbird House, but standing for three hours was "terrible" for Flora Grey.
“If you have symptoms of COVID, which I do have… it’s kind of not the best being out in the bright, humid sunlight." – Jocelyn Kirkland at Thunderbird House testing site
The setup was "not very professional," she said.
"At least give them some water and maybe a couple of lawn chairs or something, because there’s older people that are standing in line," she said.
Jocelyn Kirkland would be the last person tested at the centre Tuesday before it shut down at 4 p.m., although there were another 10 behind her.
Kirkland waited only a half-hour, but the heat made her feel worse.
"If you have symptoms of COVID, which I do have… it’s kind of not the best being out in the bright, humid sunlight," she said.
Meanwhile, passengers on three flights earlier this month are being warned about a potential exposure. A person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was on flights from Melbourne, Australia to Winnipeg. The affected flights are: Melbourne to Doha, Qatar Airways, QR905 on July 5 (rows 39 to 45); Doha to Montreal, Qatar Airways, QR763, on July 6 (rows 26 to 32) and Montreal to Winnipeg, Air Canada AC8595, rows unknown on July 6.
The new cases reported Tuesday included seven in the Interlake-Eastern health region; two in the Winnipeg health region; two in the Prairie Mountain health region; and one in the Southern Health–Santé Sud region. Two are children under nine years of age.
On Monday, 1,201 people were tested for COVID-19 bringing the total number of tests performed since early February to 77,551.
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.