Public Health is in a race against time to find the contacts of people with COVID-19. But in several regions, authorities are slow to contact people tested to send them the results of their test. The deadline can be up to eight days, according to testimonies collected by The duty.
Karine Boissonneault has been waiting for the results of her screening test and that of her son for seven days. They have been in close contact with one positive case for COVID-19. “For two weeks, three of my son’s friends came to dine at home every day with their lunch,” says the mother, who lives in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, in the Quebec City region. I was there. “
One of the young people, asymptomatic, learned he had COVID-19. “Another had his positive result six days after taking the test,” says Karine Boissonneault. On our side, we have not had any calls from Public Health so far. It was still happening in my house. “
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Karine Boissonneault and her boy confined themselves. But her partner and her other son – who have no symptoms – continue to work and go about their business. “If we had our result faster, it would stop community transmission,” she says. Karine Boissonneault says she had a slight sore throat in the days following her test.
Annie-Kim Allard, a citizen of Joliette, had to wait eight days before getting her result. She has just learned that her result is negative. However, she will remain in isolation until October 8. Her partner has tested positive for COVID-19.
“I contacted the CISSS de Lanaudière on several occasions and left messages in the voicemail box,” said Annie-Kim Allard. No way to talk to anyone. With this extreme delay, their public inquiry would have been for naught if I had been positive. “
Sarah (fictitious first name), she has COVID-19. She found out from a doctor friend, who consulted her medical records the day after the screening. It was not until three days later that a nurse from a CLSC in Montérégie, then a public health employee, contacted her to tell her that she was infected.
“I find that ridiculous”, says Sarah, who wants to remain anonymous so as not to put her friend in a mess (doctors can only consult the Santé Québec file as part of their duties and not for personal purposes) . “I had seen people the weekend before [le test]. Sarah says she informed her contacts as soon as she learned of the diagnosis from her friend’s mouth.
The screening system is also experiencing failures in the Outaouais. Valérie has no news of the result of her son’s test, carried out seven days ago. “What I find a little worrying is that we, our lives go on,” said the citizen of Gatineau. I am not in isolation. “
The worker in essential services has no symptoms. “I wear the mask and I follow the protocol,” says Valérie, who prefers to keep her last name silent so as not to worry her customers. But there is never zero risk. Her 10-year-old son, who is still coughing a little, is forced to do schoolwork at home. “He is not entitled to virtual school,” she recalls.
The CISSS de l’Outaouais confirms that the waiting period for a result is seven days in its region. A portion of the tests are analyzed in a laboratory in Montreal, he says.
“We currently have a great demand for screening for COVID-19, writes the CISSS in an email. The number of tests performed exceeds the capacity of the laboratory. We have a service corridor with the national laboratory, which is itself very busy. “
The CISSS de l’Outaouais says it is waiting for “a new laboratory device which will soon be in operation”. Some 1,100 additional analyzes per day can then be carried out.
On its website, the CISSS de Lanaudière reports that “the laboratories responsible for analyzing screening tests have been behind schedule in the processing of samples since September 20”. “The management of the CISSS is monitoring the situation”, they add.
At the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale, it is pointed out that the screening tests are sent to the CHU de Québec – Université Laval, where the analyzes are carried out. The CIUSSS ensures that it contact people with COVID-19 as soon as the laboratory sends it a result. As for negative cases, they receive a call within 24 hours, indicates the CIUSSS.
We currently have a great demand for testing for COVID-19, writes the CISSS in an email. The number of tests performed exceeds the capacity of the laboratory.
According to the CHU de Québec – Université Laval, a waiting period of seven days is exceptional. “In 97.1% of analyzes, it takes us a maximum of four days to transmit the result,” says communications consultant Lindsay Jacques-Dubé.
Karine Boissonneault believes that solutions must be found to reduce delays. She wanted to share her story, “not to complain, but in a constructive spirit”.
“Could our pharmacists or doctors have our test results and help with communication?” she asks. Could all those who are going to lose their jobs, could we pay them to make calls to Public Health? “
Training new staff is needed, says Dr Quoc Dinh Nguyen, who chaired a committee of experts whose mission was to advise Quebec in its fight against COVID-19 in seniors’ living environments. “We called in the army in the CHSLDs in the spring,” said the geriatrician. We could quickly train people to do these very specific and fairly simple tasks. “
A week ago, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, appealed to various professionals to sign up for Jecontribue and participate in the efforts to identify and find cases. More than 4000 volunteers have come forward.
“Effective investigations are the sinews of war in reopening society,” said Dr.r Quoc Dinh Nguyen.