Rapid test kits run out within an hour in last pop-up in Kitchener this week

Hundreds of people lined up outside of CF Fairview Park Mall on Tuesday, eager to get their hands on a free rapid antigen test through a provincial pop-up site. The province announced a new pop-up will be held in Waterloo from Wednesday to Friday.

New pop-up planned in Waterloo this week

Hundreds of people lined up outside of CF Fairview Park mall in Kitchener, where a provincial pop-up has organized to distribute rapid test kits. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Hundreds of people lined up outside of CF Fairview Park mall in Kitchener on Tuesday, eager to get their hands on a free rapid antigen COVID-19 test through a provincial pop-up site.

The event was the third and final one planned this week at the mall, but on Tuesday, the province updated its website to indicate another pop-up will now happen Wednesday to Friday at Wilfrid Laurier University at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics. Kits are expected to be handed out starting at 10 a.m.

If Tuesday was any indication, there will be a long line of people waiting for the kits. People arrived at Fairview Park mall on Tuesday as early as 6:30 a.m., hours before doors were slated to open at 10 a.m. Mall management confirmed to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo that the supply of kits ran out before 11 a.m.

John Potvin of Kitchener joined the lineup at about 7:30 a.m. to pick up a kit to share with his immuno-compromised partner.

"We're very concerned about that and we want to make sure that she gets the attention that she needs," he told CBC K-W, noting he plans on giving away some tests to neighbours as well.

John Potvin lined up around 7:30 a.m. to get kits for his partner and neighbours. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"I think it's important that we all do as much as possible and help our neighbours and ourselves to stay healthy and keep this thing at bay, kick it to the curb," he said.

The event was initially slated to begin at 9 a.m., but security officials informed people while they were in line that it would start at 10 a.m. Mall management told CBC K-W in an email that the pop-up had started at 9 a.m. on previous days, but not Tuesday.

More accessibility 

Roger Pardy and Barbara Geisel drove from Mississauga to Kitchener at 6:30 a.m. to secure one of the first spots in line.

"So we can take [the kits] away with us on our vacation," Geisel said.

The pair said kits quickly ran out at other pop-ups and sold out online. Last week, the province limited publicly funded PCR testing edibility after a spike in COVID-19 cases put a strain on health recourses.

Roger Pardy, left, and Barbara Geisel, right, drove from Mississauga to Kitchener to pick up kits. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

"You can't get them, can't buy them. This is the only way," Pardy said, adding there aren't enough opportunities for people who can't come out to provincial pop-ups to get the kits.

"We're fortunate we have the ability to come out here today. There's a lot of people that work or a lot of people that just can't with their kids," he said.

The lineup wrapped around the mall hours before the event started at 10 a.m. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Potvin agrees that kits should be more accessible to everyone in the country.

"I wish that there was somehow that they could distribute these to every household in Canada and let everybody have a test kit for themselves," he said.

There was more mixed reaction in the crowd.

James Lernout says the province has not properly handled the distribution plan for rapid test kits. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

James Lernout of Kitchener was closer to the end of the line. He worried people who were unsure how many kits were available would be turned away if supply ran out.

"I am extremely shocked and think that the way this is being handled is completely unfair to the people of Ontario," he said.

The province said it plans to distribute up to two million rapid tests throughout December and mid-January through pop-ups.

This is a rapid test kit displayed at a pop-up in Kitchener hosted last month by COVID Test Finders. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)


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