The high demand for COVID-19 testing in Manitoba
WINNIPEG -- Some people hoping to get tested for COVID-19 in Winnipeg are being turned away, as demand spikes at some sites across the province.
With the city seeing record turnouts for testing, it's leading to big lineups and long waits.
And with the number of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba on the rise, drive-thru sites, like the one at the MPI Service Centre on Main Street and the walk-up location at the Thunderbird House, have seen a wave of people seeking a test for the novel coronavirus.
“I’ve actually seen people lining up here. I was getting a little more worried because there was more and more people going in every day,” said Kelvin Johnston, who got tested for the virus.
Winnipeg sites broke single-day records for the number of tests performed — first with 523 on Monday, followed by 568 Tuesday.
Even those who got in line in their vehicles before the testing site on Main Street opened at 9 a.m. were left in limbo, with some people waiting more than four hours for testing.
Some people who showed up later in the day were simply turned away.
At times the line is so long at the MPI Service Centre location, it can stretch from residential roads right on to Main Street.
“It created quite a safety issue as far as I’m concerned,” said Robert McDonald, the owner of Surplus Direct Clothing, located on Main Street.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) said the traffic route was recently changed due to vehicles backing up on to Main Street.
McDonald said it only moved the problem in front of his store — leaving his customers nowhere to park on his side of Main Street and forcing them to cross six lanes of traffic on foot.
“So I think it’s just a possible accident waiting to happen here,” he said.
The WRHA said it’s working with the city to make further changes to improve traffic flows.
But the increased demand for tests isn’t limited to Winnipeg; it is being seen in other parts of Manitoba as well.
The Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority said the demand for tests has spiked recently in Selkirk, Man.
Plus in the past two days, demand for tests in communities in the Southern Regional Health Authority is nearing the totals it hit all of last week.
The head of Prairie Mountain Health said demand for tests has increased in Brandon, Man., prompting it to add more staff to increase capacity. Average wait times in that region range from 25 to 60 minutes.
Johnston said when he got tested in Winnipeg a couple weeks ago at Thunderbird House, hardly anyone was in line.
It concerns him to see people lined up out the door.
“This is getting scary (that) more and more people are going for testing for COVID,” he said