Long lineups, hours-long wait times at Winnipeg COVID-19 testing sites

If you’re looking to get tested for COVID-19 in Winnipeg, be prepared for a long day.

Testing sites around the city appear inundated, with lineups of vehicles stretching for blocks, many waiting in their car for hours, and some saying they’ve driven from one testing site to another numerous times, only to be turned away each time.

Krystl Keffer and her daughter waited at the new COVID-19 mobile testing site on Portage Avenue for hours Wednesday.

“I know I might wait here all day with her and she still might not get tested,” Keffer told Global News. “And then I had my son with me who has special needs and he doesn’t understand about waiting, so he started to get really upset so my mom had to come and pick him up, because he just can’t wait all day.”

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Keffer says pulling her children out of class to get tested is an added frustration.

“She’s got a bit of a stuffy nose and a sore throat so I’m not sending her to school, you want to do the right thing but then they make it almost impossible for you to get a test for your kid, it’s just so frustrating,” she said.

“I mean it would make sense to me if they had rapid testing available for students, because my other daughter ended up missing four or five days of school trying to get her in for a test and then waiting for results.”

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“It feels like an impossible situation right now,” Keffer added.

Read more: New COVID-19 mobile test site opens in Winnipeg

Keffer and her daughter were one of many vehicles waiting for testing at the new COVID-19 mobile testing site at 1181 Portage Avenue, which officially opened on Wednesday. Dynacare says the site can accommodate 80 people a day, however many people waiting to be tested told Global News they were informed the capacity was 50 people a day.

The site is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Dynacare recommends showing up right at 8 a.m.

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“We’re number 48, we got here at around 9:30 and the last time I went up to ask them what number they were at, which was probably around 11:30, they were on number 19,” Keffer said. “So if you’re taking three hours to get through 20 people, you’re not going to make it through everyone who’s waiting.”

Angela Hallam and her daughter were also waiting in the lineup, after trying several sites around the city Tuesday.

“Today we’ve been here since about 8:30 or quarter to nine, and we got turned away yesterday. We tried three different sites, we got turned away from Pembina, Main Street, and then we called Selkirk and they said they were closed and turning people away as well,” Hallam said.

“It is frustrating. My daughter is sick and I work in health care, so it’s concerning that we may have to come in and keep doing this. There’s not enough sites and people to test everyone out there that’s wanting to be tested.”

It’s a similar situation at sites around the city, with some saying they were turned away from the Main Street testing site as early as 9:30 a.m.

Read more: Coronavirus: Winnipeg man’s false negative put entire family at risk, says mother

In an emailed statement to Global News, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says more drive-thru testing sites are expected to open in the coming weeks. They also are advising people against going to a hospital or clinic to be tested for COVID-19, unless instructed to by Health Links.

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Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday that public health is working to find ways to reduce the long lineups at the testing sites.

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