- In Gods Lake Narrows First Nation, all Ellis Okemow wants for Christmas is to be reunited with his only daughter.
- The couple went to the King Edward Street testing site late Tuesday evening but were told they wouldn’t be able to get a test before it closed.
For Christmas, all Ellis Okemow wants is to be reunited with his only daughter in Gods Lake Narrows First Nation.
Okemow and his partner, Delia Ross, traveled to Winnipeg from their hometown in northeastern Manitoba to complete their holiday shopping.
Instead, they spent less than 24 hours visiting four different Winnipeg COVID-19 testing sites.
Due to a surge in demand for COVID-19 tests and lengthy wait times for results, they’re now in danger of missing their flight home on Friday.
“It’s crazy,” Okemow said after waiting in line at the Main Street drive-thru testing location for about 45 minutes on Wednesday. “We’ve only walked three or four blocks.”
The couple later revealed that they had to wait five hours for a test to fly with Perimeter Aviation to places like Gods Lake Narrows.
The Winnipeg Police Service issued a traffic advisory for motorists near the King Edward Street COVID-19 testing site on Wednesday due to the long lines at the sites.
Ross wonders why the province isn’t doing more to help make rapid testing available, given the high demand for COVID-19 testing as the Omicron virus variant cases spread quickly and more people need negative test results to travel during the holiday season.
“They’d simplify and expedite the process. Take a look at the lineups, “she stated
The couple went to the King Edward Street testing site late Tuesday evening but were told they wouldn’t be able to get a test before it closed.
“The line was so long that the gate had to be shut because it was already full,” Ross explained.
They went to a walk-in COVID testing site on Garry Street early Wednesday morning and another on King Street.
Denied a third time.
Okemow and Ross contacted CBC News after finally getting through the line and receiving their COVID tests, saying they were told it could take up to three or four days to receive their results.
Capacity was pushed, but not to its limit: Atwal.
Long lines have been reported at many of Winnipeg’s nine testing locations, prompting NDP Leader Wab Kinew to ask how Premier Heather Stefanson plans to address testing capacity.
“The premier must come out and tell us what his plan is to deal with the Omicron variant, to strengthen our healthcare system, and to fix what is an overbuesting system,” Kinew said.
Uzoma Asagwara, a health critic for the NDP, has called on the province to increase testing capacity.
“We need to do a better job for the people of this province. The province, the government, the premier, and the minister of health must all play a role in ensuring that capacity at COVID-testing sites is increased, “Asagwara explained.
“That means more people will be tested in more places. It entails extending the hours during which people can be tested. “They stated that this includes ensuring that testing is available during the holidays.
According to Dr. Jazz Atwal, the province’s deputy chief public health officer, Manitoba’s testing capacity has not been exceeded despite the increased demand for tests.
“It’s being pushed,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday. “Our turnaround time has increased a little bit over the last little short period.”
“We’re looking into other avenues in terms of testing to see if we can expand that.”
Source: CBC News
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