'Contact of a contact' speaks out after being denied COVID-19 test

Raymond Quenneville says he was turned away while trying to get a COVID-19 test, despite having a close contact who was exposed to someone with the virus, and wants the Ontario government to expand the definition of who can get free testing.

Raymond Quenneville wants Ontario to expand testing criteria

Concerns over who's eligible for COVID-19 testing come as the number of cases have risen in Windsor-Essex and other parts of Ontario. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

A Windsor, Ont., resident is frustrated after being turned away from getting a COVID-19 test at both a hospital and pharmacy, despite having a close contact who was exposed to someone with the virus.

"I thought we were here to try to help keep the public healthy and protected, and for them to let me walk away — I just didn't understand that," said Raymond Quenneville.

Quenneville was at a small gathering last week. He found out later that the host had been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. But the host didn't want to get tested, leaving Quenneville in limbo. 

Raymond Quenneville of Windsor, Ont., says he was turned away from getting a COVID-19 test at both a hospital and a pharmacy, despite having a close contact who was exposed to someone with the virus. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Even though he's double vaccinated, Quenneville wanted to know he wasn't spreading the virus.

"I Isolated myself at home," he said, adding he didn't go to some events on his schedule just in case.

Quenneville's concern comes as COVID-19 cases have risen in the region this month. As of Monday, there were more than 500 active cases, despite the fact 72 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

Quenneville had already been turned away at a pharmacy before trying the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Windsor Regional Hospital, where he was directed back to the pharmacy.

But the hospital was following the provincial guidelines around COVID-19 testing. Under that criteria, being a contact of a contact who was exposed does not meet the qualifications for a free test. 

The provincial guidelines are that only those with COVID-19 symptoms, a direct exposure to a positive case, or living or working in a place where there's an outbreak are eligible to be tested at assessment centres.

Quenneville wants to see the province expand the definition of who can get tested. CBC News has reached out to the provincial government for comment, but has not heard back in time of this publication. 

Other testing options available

The assessment centre isn't the only option for testing. Rapid screening is available at select pharmacies, and anyone who is asymptomatic and either an Indigenous person or essential worker can receive the PCR COVID-19 test, the same type given at the hospital.

The CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said that in a scenario like Quenneville's, a pharmacy would be the best place to go for a test for reassurance.

"Sometimes it's about the language and what you say when you go," said Nicole Dupuis. "So someone who is a contact of a contact really isn't a contact ... it's not actually a thing ... until you've been identified as a high-risk contact."

She adds that self-test kits are also available for purchase.

There are also other ways to get tested for a fee. Several private labs in Windsor offer testing, though most focus on those who need it for travel. Antigen testing starts at $75 while PCR tests are $200 and up.

With files by Katerina Georgieva