Provincial lab experiencing COVID-19 testing backlog
A technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York's Long Island on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP / John Minchillo)
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba’s provincial testing lab is experiencing a COVID-19 backlog.
According to Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, the backlog is due to a shortage of a certain reagent that’s needed to do the tests. The shortage is worldwide, but the provincial lab is now making its own.
Dr. Roussin said previously the lab has done 400-500 tests each day. He did not release details on the length of the backlog.
“They do have, over the last few days, a back log which they are moving towards addressing and hopefully up and running at full capacity this week.”
In terms of whether enough testing is being done in the province, chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said there are a number of ways healthcare workers can see the impacts of virus, noting there are still low levels of emergency room visits.
“We aren’t seeing COVID-19 in our hospitals at this time,” she said.
In total, there have been over 4,300 COVID-19 tests completed in Manitoba. Health officials said results for health-care workers, people in hospitals or long-term care homes, and First Nations residents will be the priority.
Home-care workers will also now be screening clients over the phone before going into their homes to check if they’re at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
So far in Manitoba more than 4,300 COVID-19 tests have been performed. There are 20 total cases currently in the province, when you combine the probable and confirmed cases.
Dr. Roussin also said the focus right now for testing is those at highest risk. That includes Manitobans returning from international travel who have symptoms of respiratory illness and those who are critically ill.
“Right now those are our guidelines, but we are looking and have plans in place to expand as our capacity permits.”
- With files from CTV’s Michelle Gerwing and the Canadian Press’ Kelly Geraldine Malone.