‘We’ve gone from being a neighbourhood testing clinic to a regional clinic’: PCR tests hard to come by as Quebec adds 9,206 new infections

MONTREAL — Quebec added 9,206 more coronavirus cases Christmas afternoon, another considerable jump as the province grapples with widespread infection throughout the territory. 

Active infections climbed by 5,643 with 54,462 people at home or in hospital with coronavirus on Christmas day. 

Four more people have been reported dead due to the virus, bringing that total to 11,613 since the pandemic began.

Quebec has reported 530,002 positive cases since the start of the pandemic. Details on COVID-19-related hospitalizations and vaccination will be released next week.

Officials have said in recent days the daily numbers are likely an underestimation because the province’s testing centres are overwhelmed and can’t keep up with demand.

COMMUNITY RALLIES TO HELP AMID LONG WAITS IN THE COLD FOR TESTS

As Quebec records an explosion of COVID-19 cases, local health authorities are asking residents to curb their desires to get tested if they don’t have symptoms or haven’t had a close exposure to the virus. 

Montreal Public Health Director Mylene Drouin told CTV Thursday the testing and contact-tracing system doesn’t “have the capacity” to keep up with the rapid spread

Meanwhile, Quebecers have been forced to wait in uncertainty until a test appointment becomes available, or stand outside a local clinic for hours. 

A testing nurse in Montreal’s Park Extension neighbourhood who was not authorized to speak publically told CTV they’ve received people from far and wide looking for tests in short supply.

“We’ve got people coming from Chambly … and Saint-Jean,” they said. “We’ve gone from being a neighbourhood testing clinic to a regional clinic,” they continued. But we don’t have “the resources to handle that.” 

Covid-19 Quebec

People wait in line to receive a COVID-19 test in Montreal, Thursday, December 23, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Volunteers from community groups have been handing out granola bars and blankets to those in line. Residents say the long waits have cause additional medical issues.

“For ten days the lines have dragged on at our neighborhood screening clinic,” wrote Park Ex resident and nurse Sasha Dyck to social media. “(We) had to call the ambulance several times for people with hypothermia, respiratory distress and one where we had to initiate CPR to find her pulse.”

— Published with files from The Canadian Press.

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