Sudbury

Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief pushing for faster COVID-19 test results

The Grand Chief of Mushkegowuk Council wants to shorten the time it takes to get results from COVID-19 tests for people on the James Bay coast.

Chief Jonathan Solomon says a 4-day turnaround time needs to be expedited

After an individual tested positive for COVID-19 on Moose Factory Island, Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon of the Mushkegowuk Council says he wants to see COVID-19 test results return faster. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The Grand Chief of Mushkegowuk Council wants to shorten the time it takes to get results from COVID-19 tests for people on the James Bay coast.

On September 12, the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority reported that one person has tested positive on Moose Factory Island.

Chief Jonathan Solomon says that the swab test was taken on September 7 and the positive result obtained September 11.

Solomon says authorities are contact tracing and testing as many people as possible, but the swabs from communities all along the coast have to go to Timmins– a distance of over 300 kilometers–  for processing.

"The tests have to be flown on a plane, it's not that you're driving and they're dropped off at the lab," Solomon said. "They have to be flown."

Solomon says he'd like to shorten the wait time from swabbing to test result from four to two days.

"[These] results were not known until September 11th so the four day gap, you know, we need to address how that can be more expedient."

Lynn Innes,  president and CEO of the Weeneebayko Health Authority, says the facility in Moose Factory can only process COVID-19 tests from people who are admitted to the hospital but is working to expand that number.

"We are working with the national microbiology lab to build that capacity," she says.

Innes says that could happen in one to two months.

Innes says preparations in case of an outbreak are in place.

"We have been working quite closely with Ontario Health and the ministry to obtain additional supplies based on our region and remoteness and we have received additional supplies."

She says there are three ventilators available in Moose Factory and some accessible in the Town of Moosonee.

Innes says they also have three to four weeks worth of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Contingency plans are in place and a 20- bed field hospital is set up in Moosonee, says Innes.

The Weeneebayko Health Authority's website says that as 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15, there have been 2034 negative tests with the one positive result. The results of 25 tests are pending.

Lockdown measures are currently in place for communities including Fort Albany and Kashechewan.

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