PEI

Call for capital region 20-somethings to get tested leads to confusion, lineups

All people ages 20 to 29 in the greater Charlottetown area should get a COVID-19 test in the next few days, says Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison and P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.

'I was a bit frustrated with how we weren't told that the testing wasn't open last night'

The testing clinic in Charlottetown is open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 64 Park St. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

All people ages 20 to 29 in the greater Charlottetown area should get a COVID-19 test in the next few days, provincial officials are advising. 

Premier Dennis King and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison made the request during a live public health briefing late Sunday afternoon.

"We are encouraging all of those between the ages of 20 and 29 in the capital region to get tested, regardless if you have symptoms," King said. "This is the group, not only here on P.E.I. but across the country, that seems to be the most affected in recent cases."

Anyone in this age group experiencing symptoms should get tested as soon as possible and self-isolate until they receive the results, according to the province.

The province says anyone in this age group who is not experiencing symptoms can get tested in the coming days, but can still attend school or work and does not need to self-isolate while awaiting the test result. 

'A really unfair position'

But following the premier's request, several people said there was some confusion about when and how to get a test.  

Claire Byrne falls within the 20- to 29-year-old age range. She said she tried to get tested immediately on Sunday only to find the site was closed. 

"I'm really lucky I have the ability to work from home," said Byrne. 

But for those who don't, Byrne said she is concerned they will have to choose between working and making money or getting tested.

"It's putting people in like a really unfair position without clear direction," said Byrne. 

'A bit frustrated'

Kali Ross also said she hurried to the Charlottetown clinic on Sunday after the announcement. 

"I was a bit frustrated with how we weren't told that the testing wasn't open last night," said Ross. 

"There was lots of cars around. I think lots of people were in a similar boat where they thought they could go get tested last night and they were closed."

'There wasn't any clarification on how people without cars could get tested,' says Kali Ross. 'I know one of the exposures was on the bus so a lot of those people may not have a car.' (Submitted by Kali Ross)

On Monday morning, cars began lining up two hours before clinics even opened.

Ross said she went to the testing site in Stratford in the afternoon. 

"There was about 50 cars ahead of us, it did still take about two hours to get tested," she said. 

"It was overall a great experience, the staff were super kind and patient despite the immense number of cars that were there."  

'Small price to pay'

People can still avoid long wait times by making appointments to get tested online.

But, Sweta Daboo, who is also between 20 and 29 years old, said she thinks those long lines are a good indication that people are taking these measures seriously.

'My first thought at that point was I need to go get tested now,' says Sweta Daboo. (Submitted by Sweta Daboo)

"I think it's very positive, it's always better to be safe than sorry," said Daboo.

"A COVID test is a small price to pay if you're looking at protecting our community."

Testing for those without a vehicle

For Islanders who don't have a vehicle, it is still possible to get tested by walking in. Morrison also said it's possible to arrange for Island EMS to go to your residence and people without symptoms can take public transit.

The province is also working to set up a clinic at Holland College's Charlottetown campus specifically for people who don't have cars.

"This situation does suggest there is community spread of COVID-19 on P.E.I.," Dr. Morrison said. 

"I am worried about what is currently happening with COVID-19 in our province and even more worried about what could happen if we don't act now."

The testing clinic in Charlottetown has extended its hours this week. It will be open from from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 64 Park St. For testing clinics nearest you, check the P.E.I. government website.

Watch the full briefing here

Reminder of symptoms 

The symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
  • Possible loss of taste and/or smell.
  • Sore throat.
  • Headache.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Runny nose.

More from CBC P.E.I.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story misattributed a quote said by Kali Ross to Claire Byrne.
    Dec 08, 2020 11:05 AM AT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cody MacKay

Web Writer

Cody hails from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, and is a UPEI History and Carleton Masters of Journalism alum. He joined CBC P.E.I. in July, 2017. Reach him at cody.mackay@cbc.ca

With files from Brittany Spencer

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