Ottawa

Week-long wait for COVID-19 test results frustrating Outaouais residents

Some residents in the Outaouais are having to wait as long as a week before getting their COVID-19 test results, according to the MNA for the Pontiac.

Western Quebec lagging behind other regions, MNA says

Some western Quebec residents are waiting up to a week before finding out they've tested positive for COVID-19, according to Pontiac MNA André Fortin. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Some residents in the Outaouais are having to wait as long as a week before getting their COVID-19 test results, according to the MNA for the Pontiac.

Typical wait times across Quebec are between one and four days, but André Fortin told Ottawa Morning on Monday that residents of western Quebec are waiting much longer.

"If it can be done everywhere else in the province, there's no reason they cannot be done in a timely basis here in our region," Fortin said.

Fortin said he's been hearing complaints from constituents for weeks, with one still awaiting results from a test done on July 15.

While waiting for test results, people are advised to remain in isolation, continue physical distancing and monitor for symptoms. That can be especially difficult for people stuck home with small children, and those unable to return to their jobs.

Emailing negative results

For the past two weeks, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), the region's public health authority, has been emailing people with negative results instead of phoning them, a protocol aimed at lightening the workload for employees.

CISSSO now says it can forward negative results within an average of 72 hours. The time frame is shorter for positive results.

According to Ann Rondeau, CISSSO's director of multidisciplinary and community services, a new laboratory device expected in September will increase testing capacity in the region to 1,100 tests per day.

"We will be completely autonomous in the Outaouais," Rondeau said. 

Expecting a spike

Fortin said he believes that with students returning to school and the flu season approaching, the need for testing will soon spike. 

"If the health board is acting now to find the proper resources, to test people and to get the results to people fast, that's good news," he said. "But the challenge remains to get these test results to people quicker."

Denis Marcheterre, president of public health advocacy group Action Santé Outaouais, is concerned about the risk of the respiratory illness being spread by people awaiting their test results.

"Despite the fact that the Outaouais was relatively spared during the first wave, we do not know what will happen in the second wave," Marcheterre said. "You have to prepare accordingly."

With files from The Canadian Press

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