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After a string of alerts warning the public of possible COVID-19 exposures at schools, stores, restaurants, on buses and at health-care centres, testing sites in Winnipeg were slammed Tuesday, with some locations forced to turn people away by mid-day.
Kate McGonigal went for a test Tuesday morning with a sore throat, only to be told the wait would be more than two hours.
"I would have hoped that there would have been more access and testing ability here," McGonigal said, noting she was referred to be tested by Shared Health’s online screening tool.
"They should have seen where the numbers were going and tried to get more testing in place."
“Things are just going to get worse from here, and I hope they can find some more capacity.” – Kate McGonigal
She arrived at the Pembina Highway screening location around 10:45 a.m., where staff took her contact information and told her to return in about an hour. In the meantime, McGonigal went to check out the testing centre at 604 St. Mary's Rd., where she said a line of people stretched out the door and down the block.
Around 2 p.m., staff from the Pembina location called to say it was her turn to be swabbed; others showing up for a test were told to come back Wednesday, she said.
While the wait is an inconvenience, McGonigal is more troubled by the potential consequences of turning those who need testing away.
"It’s disheartening because it’s worrisome," she said. "Things are just going to get worse from here, and I hope they can find some more capacity."
On Tuesday, Manitoba announced 17 new cases of COVID-19, and a five-day test positivity rate of 1.4 per cent, with 1,447 tests performed Monday.
The bulk of new cases were in Winnipeg (13); the rest in Interlake–Eastern region (one), Prairie Mountain Health (one), and Southern Health (two). Three new cases are in people 19 years old or younger, officials said.
Province-wide there were 269 active cases of COVID-19; 12 people were in hospital, with three in intensive care. Sixteen people have died due to COVID-19.
A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said all four of its COVID-19 screening sites reached capacity by the early afternoon, and demand for tests in the city is increasing.
"Staffing scheduling issues contributed to some delays at testing sites earlier (Tuesday) but were addressed by mid-morning," the spokesperson said.
"While we are actively working to find solutions to increase testing capacity and staffing within Winnipeg, it is very important that people continue to present for testing if they have symptoms, live with someone who has symptoms or who has tested positive, or who have otherwise been advised to be tested for COVID-19."
Public health officials warned of two possible COVID-19 exposures Tuesday, including a Winnipeg school.
On Sept. 10 and 11, a person attended St. Aidan’s Christian School (400 Hargrave St.) while not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, the province said. A public health investigation shows the infection was not acquired at the school and close contacts connected to the case have been identified, contacted and advised to self-isolate.
The second exposure occurred at Actionmarguerite (185 Despins St.) on Sept. 10, and involved a health-care worker at the personal care home.
A previously identified case in Winnipeg has also been linked to the St. Amant Health and Transition Services unit at 440 River Rd., public health officials said.
Both Actionmarguerite and St. Amant Health and Transition Services were placed under additional restrictions and moved to critical on the province’s pandemic response system. Public health said the risk to others is low and close contacts are being identified.
The outbreak at Bethesda Place personal care home in Steinbach grew by one, after another staff member tested positive for COVID-19. There are now 14 cases — eight staff and six residents — in the cluster.
In a statement on its website, Winnipeg's Deer Lodge Centre said one of its employees has also tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
As of Tuesday, outbreaks have been declared at nine personal care homes in the province.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.
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