Saskatchewan

Sask. premier, Opposition leader call long wait for COVID-19 tests 'unacceptable,' 'inexcusable'

Some Saskatchewan residents concerned they might have contracted COVID-19 are encountering long wait times with little information before they are able to get tested.

Residents say they're frustrated by long waits for testing

Premier Scott Moe, left, calls week-long waits for COVID-19 tests 'unacceptable.' (CBC)

Some Saskatchewan residents concerned they might have contracted COVID-19 are encountering long wait times with little information before they are able to get tested.

This week, many took to social media to vent their frustration at waiting for five or more days before getting booked for testing. 

When asked about these delays on Wednesday, Premier Scott Moe said improvements are needed. 

"If someone is waiting a week to have a test done, that's too long and it's unacceptable," he said. "We most certainly need to do better if that is the case, and we will do better."

Moe said that with the Roy Romanow Provincial Lab able to run approximately 1,800 to 2,000 tests per day, as well as mobile testing units working in the field, the province has not yet reached its testing capacity. 

However, he said there are plans in progress to distribute tests in a more timely manner. 

"There's likely more testing capacity that will be available as we start to expand the tests we are doing in the weeks and months ahead," Moe said.

"We're actively looking at what we can do to increase our capacity — not necessarily increase the number of tests that are done, but increase our capacity … so that these individuals would be able to potentially access a test a little quicker."

Kyle Kuling, who is currently waiting for a COVID-19 test in Regina, says current wait times are inconvenient for people looking to get back to their regular lives. But he is more concerned about what delays could mean for data collection and public health. 

"If we need to stay at home for a few days to help protect the health of others, then there's no question — that's what we do," he said.

"But if the testing is delayed, can we rely on the numbers that are out there? … You could have a lot of asymptomatic people out there, or people experiencing very mild symptoms, being lost in the numbers because they're not actually getting tested fast enough."

Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili said the government needs to be more proactive about reducing the wait to get tested, especially with a new school year starting soon.

"It's inexcusable that we are months into the pandemic, but people in the province are having to wait hours on 811 to speak with someone, days more to be called back, only to be told that they will have to wait a week before they can schedule a test," Meili said.

"These delays put the reopening of our economy and our schools at risk. The government must take immediate action to address this."

Meili called on the government to include information on testing wait times in its daily briefings.

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